Chinese facial recognition technology aims to prevent children from playing
Tencent game Arena of Valor player. (Zhang Peng / LightRocket via Getty Images)
Tencent, China’s largest tech company, uses facial recognition technology to prevent children from playing late at night.
China is tightening regulations on gambling over fears that excessive gambling leads to crime and mental health issues.
With the new technology, if children under the age of 18 try to play a game after 10 p.m., they will have to pass a check that uses the phone’s camera to verify their identity.
Control is to prevent children from abusing previous controls that have been put in place. In 2019, real name identification systems were implemented in all games and time was limited to avoid addiction.
The new recognition technology will be linked to a public identity database to ensure accuracy.
Concerns have been raised repeatedly by human rights watchdogs about China’s increasingly authoritarian use of facial recognition technology as a top-level state surveillance tool.
The technology is used to regulate the behavior of the public, using a large number of cameras across the country. It can record the faces of nine-day-old babies and is used as a means of state control. For example, Chinese authorities have used surveillance tools to publicly shame people who wear sleepwear in public, calling it “uncivilized behavior”.
“We will do face screening for accounts registered with real names that have been playing for a period of time overnight,” Tencent Games said.
“Anyone who refuses or fails the facial verification will be treated as a minor, as outlined in Tencent’s Anti-Addiction Game Health System Supervision, and kicked offline. “
So far, the control has been implemented on 60 of Tencent’s mobile games, including Honor of kings and Game for peace, but will be added to more over time.
Tencent has stakes in several video game companies, including Riot Games, Blizzard, Epic Games and even Ubisoft.
It is not yet clear whether these companies will have to use the same technology, at least for their titles in China.
Tencent also owns WeChat, China’s largest social media network.
Recently, several LGBT + groups have declared Reuters they had been blocked or deleted from their accounts, raising fears of a wider crackdown on LGBT + people on the network.
The accounts shared LGBT + book recommendations, mental health resources, and more.