Facial recognition is preventing minors in China from gaming past midnight
This story about nationally regulated “parental control”, boiled down, in 1:32 minutes.
What’s the fuss?
A nationwide facial recognition system in China has been activated to prevent minors from playing video games for an illegal amount of time (seriously).
If you’re under 18, you have all the time in the world to play video games — unless you live in China.
- In 2019, China legally prohibited minors from playing video games between 10 P.M. and 8 A.M., or from playing more than 90 minutes on weekdays, in order to curb perceived “gaming addiction”.
- Subsequently, every game in the country had to add an authentication system that checks the player’s Chinese ID to prevent underage players from breaking the law.
Tencent, the Chinese mega-conglomerate which also happens to be the world’s largest gaming company, is rolling out facial recognition capabilities for its own games that will scan users’ faces via smartphone to ensure compliance.
- Dubbed “Midnight Patrol”, once midnight hits the game will ask the player for face verification, which will then be cross-checked with their Chinese national identity.
- If a Chinese minor is caught playing after hours, or the verification is refused, they will be automatically be kicked out of the game.
Boiling it down
China already normalizes the surveillance of its citizens with its already established facial recognition system, which Midnight Patrol will rely on.
- Such stringent measures on privacy has certainly sparked criticism from other countries, especially regarding the reported human rights issues in the heavily-Muslim populated Xinjiang region.
- Midnight Patrol may enhance the government’s ability to keep a watchful eye on their citizens, outside of reinforcing the aforementioned law.
Tencent likely has mixed feelings about the implementation.
- On one hand, Tencent likes to be on the Chinese government’s good side to avoid the legal woes its competition, Alibaba, had.
- On the other hand, Tencent will likely miss out on significant microtransaction revenue with these limitations on their underage die-hard fanbase.