China drafts rules for using facial recognition data

By AFP   August 8, 2023 | 12:04 am PT
China drafts rules for using facial recognition data
People are seen in front of facial recognition camera-controlled gates at Peking University in Beijing, China, August 31, 2020. Photo by Reuters/Thomas Peter
Firms using facial recognition in China will be required to obtain consent or legal permission before collecting personal information, draft regulations released Tuesday said, while stipulating the rules would not apply to some bodies.

Draft regulations released by China's Cyberspace Administration warned that use of the technology must "abide by laws and regulations, comply with public order, respect social morality, assume social responsibility, and fulfil duties to protect personal information."

Use of the technology to "analyze... ethnicity or religion" is prohibited, and the processing of facial data can only be carried out with the individual's consent or written legal permission, the law said.

It must also not be used to "endanger national security, harm public interests", or "disrupt social order", the regulations said.

Such technology may be used "only when there is a specific purpose and sufficient necessity, and when strict protection measures are taken", reads one article of the regulation.

But, it stipulated, the rules would not apply to those "not required by laws and administrative regulations to obtain personal consent." It did not specify what those were.

The regulations will enter effect on September 7 following a public consultation period.

At an industry expo in Beijing in June, AFP saw a number of prominent firms showcasing tech that allowed them to identify "undesirable" behaviours and scan faces from more than 100 meters (yards) away.

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