Chinese Gov’t Pressures Tencent to Verify Players’ Ages with Biometrics

“Tencent says its aim is to use facial recognition technology to match players against their government databases in order to verify their ages, which suggests it’s working closely with government authorities.”

Chinese Gov't Pressures Tencent to Verify Players' Ages with BiometricsAt the Chinese government’s behest, Tencent Holdings says it is exploring the use of facial recognition technology to prevent minors from playing its wildly successful mobile game, Honour of Kings.

According to a South China Morning Post report, the effort is a response to government authorities’ concerns about children spending too much time playing mobile games, which they blame for widespread near-sightedness. Tencent says its aim is to use facial recognition technology to match players against their government databases in order to verify their ages, which suggests it’s working closely with government authorities.

The company has selected about a thousand new Honour of Kings players in Beijing and Shenzhen to test its new technology, but hasn’t yet elaborated on any further plans to expand the biometric authentication system to more of the over 200 million users of the game.

It’s another example of the growing prevalence of facial recognition across Chinese society, and one that happens to illustrate both the technology’s use in everyday consumer applications and in government surveillance. There’s no indication that authorities will use Tencent’s technology to monitor end users, of course; but in compelling a theoretically private company to use biometric identification on its customers, the state is clearly wielding the power of biometric surveillance indirectly.

Source: South China Morning Post