Beijing turns to facial recognition to combat public housing abuses – SCMP

What happened: Beijing is ramping up its efforts to improve security and crack down on illegal subletting in public housing by putting more facial recognition-enabled smart locks in place. According to local authorities, tenants who sublet their housing illegally will be recorded in the national credit system and will lose their eligibility for low-income housing for five years. All of the public housing projects in Beijing are expected to adopt the new face-scanning system by June 2019, which will involve collecting the facial information of 120,000 tenants.

Why it’s important: Many Chinese cities have adopted facial-recognition systems in law enforcement and crime prevention. As of March, Beijing had approximately 100,000 public housing units for rental in 76 housing projects. The new system has already been installed in 47 projects across the Chinese capital. With increasingly prevalent mass-surveillance technologies in place, the Chinese government is quickly building up its capabilities to meet its all-important goal of ensuring “social stability.”

Nicole Jao is a reporter based in Beijing. She’s passionate about emerging trends, news, and stories of human interest within the world of technology. Connect with her on Twitter or via email:

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