Law professor takes action against Hangzhou safari park, questioning why the tourist spot would need such data

A Chinese wildlife park has sparked outcry after making visitors submit to facial recognition scanning, with one law professor taking it to court.

Professor Guo Bing is taking action against Hangzhou safari park, after it replaced its existing fingerprinting system with the new technology.

I [filed this case] because I feel that not only my [privacy] rights are being infringed upon but those of many others, Guo, from Zhejiang University of Sci-Tech, said according to an audio recording of an interview posted by state-run Beijing News.

Guo is attempting to force the park to return the money he paid for an annual pass and highlight its misuse of data gathered by the software. A court in Fuyang has accepted his case. He questioned why a wildlife park would need to collect such information and had doubts over data security and who would be responsible if any were leaked.

The case could possibly open wider debate in China over the use of such technology by businesses and the government.

Chinas use of facial recognition, across the board, without any notice or consent, is appalling, privacy expert Ann Cavoukian said, when asked about the significance of the case, which several Chinese outlets indicated was a first. I sincerely hope there will be more resistance to such surveillance, but I doubt it will have much effect in China.

Cavoukian said that facial recognition software is highly inaccurate and often resulted in a high percentage of false positives, pointing to the recent case in the UK where police use of facial recognition software was wrong 81% of the time.

The park introduced facial recognition in July for annual pass holders and told those who did not register their biometric information by 17 October that passes would be invalid, Beijing News reported.

About 10,000 visitors hold the annual park passes which cost 150 ($195) for a family of four, the park told the paper.

Guo initially tried to cancel his card and get the money back after the facial recognition software was introduced but the park refused to return the full amount.

Previously, cardholders were scanned with a fingerprint but system malfunctions led to long queues during peak season.

Guo broadly backed the use of such technology by authorities but also said that the issue needed to be discussed more widely in China. I think it is OK and, to some extent, necessary for government agencies, especially police departments, to implement this technology, because it helps to maintain public security, Guo said, according to an interview with Beijing News. But its still worth discussing when it comes to the legitimacy and legality of using the technology.

Calls to Zhejiang University of Sci-Tech to connect with Guo were unsuccessful. Representatives of the Hangzhou safari park declined to comment when reached by phone.

With additional reporting from Zhong Yunfan

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

 

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