Since 2019, Chinese schools have been implementing facial recognition systems, and parents have complained that the technology jeopardizes their children’s privacy.

According to the Shanghai-based Sixth Tone media source, a parent named Tan filed a complaint with the Badong County administration after a local middle school forced children to use facial recognition scanners to make purchases on campus.

Tan argues that if the students’ facial data is exposed, the system poses a privacy concern.

In an article on the paper.cn, the current widespread implementation of face recognition systems has raised many people’s concerns about personal privacy. The introduction of face recognition technology into campus and its use on students are even more of a sensitive topic. Previously, the introduction of face recognition in some schools for student attendance and other management was questioned by public opinion.

In her commentary, Xue Yujie, a reporter for Sixth Tone, wrote that the students she spoke with were concerned that the school never asked for their permission before capturing their face data. Teachers and experts also question whether facial recognition systems can help students perform better.

Alipay describes One Face Pass as a facial recognition system used in primary and middle schools; the technology can be used to monitor students while they make payments and students who are required to supply their face data and their parents’ bank information. It can also be used by authorities to identify prospective suspects and by gaming firms to keep minors from playing late at night.

According to an industry white paper, the number of face scanners installed in China increased by 30% per year on average between 2010 and 2018. By 2024, the market is expected to be worth 10 billion yuan (1.58 billion dollars).

Duan Weiwen, a research director at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Sixth Tone, “Education authorities should be fully aware of the potential ethical risks and long-term pitfalls caused by the misuse of facial recognition rather than merely pursuing efficiency.”

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