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Tencent uses facial recognition to stop minors in playing games after curfew hours

Chinese company Tencent Games deploys facial recognition to limit the time spent on video games of those below 18 years old.
File photo: Lenovo Legion Phone Duel

Designed to stop minors from playing games excessively

Apparently, facial recognition technology will scan gamers' faces every single evening. It aims to catch minors breaking a gaming curfew and help prevent video game addiction. In 2019, China established a cyber curfew that prevents those under 18 from playing games between 10 PM and 8 AM.

In this country, underage players are required to log on using their real names and identification number. This is said to be a part of countrywide regulations aimed at limiting screen time and keeping internet addiction in check. 

There's still that possibility that sneaky teenagers can use their parent's phones or identities to evade the rules. With this in mind, Tencent announced that it will apply facial recognition to prevent them from doing that. 

The Chinese gaming company officially introduced Midnight Patrol but its wider rollout triggered serious debate. Netizens were arguing about the benefits and privacy risks of facial recognition technology.

Some people are saying that it will help in curbing internet addiction among teens. However, they are doubting how the data would be delivered to the government. Others are criticizing the company for being unreasonably strict with the policy.

There are thousands of complaints about China's decision to restrict controls and lesser anonymity on the Internet. Moreover, there's a hashtag on Weibo that reminds gamers to make sure they were fully dressed in case the camera captured more than their faces. 

A 24-year-old programmer in the northern city of Qingda said he would delete any video games that required facial recognition. He expressed privacy concerns posting, "I don’t trust any of this software."

Tencent said it began testing facial recognition technology in April to verify the ages of avid nighttime players. It was able to deploy it in 60 of its games and will gradually cover more other game products in the future.

In June, it prompted an average of 5.8 million users a day to show their faces while logging in. Aside from this, it blocked more than 90 percent of those who rejected or failed facial verification from access to their accounts.

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