Forgot your password or your ID? Well, facial recognition (FR) technology can help. Using just their faces, people can unlock their smartphones, make payments and take the subway. FR technology has also been used to catch criminals.
However, as the use of FR applications has become more widespread, the technology has aroused controversy over privacy and financial security risks.
A survey jointly released by Guangzhou-based Nanfang Metropolis Daily and the Personal Information Protection Task Force on Apps said that almost 65 percent of respondents think that FR technology is being abused.
Even worse, more than 30 percent said they have actually experienced financial loss as well as invasion of privacy due to facial information leak and abuse.
According to Xinhua, many applications do have loopholes that could lead to leaks in personal and facial information data.
Loopholes aren’t the only worry, though. On some online trading platforms, only 2 yuan is charged for thousands of photos of people’s faces, but such trade is neither authorized nor legal.
In August, two suspects were arrested in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, for allegedly stealing and reselling personal information.
This has prompted concerns about the security of personal bioinformation. “Physical characteristics, including facial features and fingerprints, are some of the most important identifiers for individuals. Unlike our ID, which can be modified (修改), our bioinformation stays permanent for life,” Zhang Xin, associate professor at the University of International Business and Economics, told CGTN.
Therefore, there should be a legal framework that regulates the collection, use, storage and transmission of bioinformation, according to Zhang.
Though China does not have specific regulations relating to FR technology, the China Cyber Security Law, which came into effect in 2017, states that personal information can only be collected when individuals are informed and agree to the aims and scope of the collection.
The Civil Code, which was adopted this year, also states that personal consent is required before the collection and processing of personal information. And users have the right to ask to withdraw their personal information, according to Zhu Wei, deputy director of the Communication Law Research Center at the China University of Political Science and Law.
Tech companies have been optimizing their FR algorithm and the ways in which they collect data. According to CGTN, they are now addressing security risks with more advanced technology, like federated learning that can train the algorithm without directly accessing the data the company collects. This reduces the possibility of leaks.