In Chinese High School, a Student’s Face Buys Lunch

Epoch Newsroom
By Epoch Newsroom
October 18, 2017Chinashare
In Chinese High School, a Student’s Face Buys Lunch
Facial recognition technology is being rapidly introduced across China. In this stock photo shows a teacher uses a machine that employs both fingerprint and facial recognition technology to check the identification of a student before a simulated college entrance exam in Hebei Province on June 6, 2017. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

In China, Big Brother has been invited to lunch. A high school has set up a comprehensive facial recognition system in its cafeteria that requires students to have their faces scanned in order to be served food.

The system, which Chinese state media are hailing  as an innovative success, provides an example of how the Chinese regime is introducing facial recognition technology throughout society, with the goal one day of enabling all of Chinese citizens to be monitored.

The use of the technology at Hangzhou No. 11 High School in coastal Zhejiang Province is said by officials to be in response to more modest concerns. They say it is motivated by the apparently growing problem of pupils forgetting to bring their lunch coupons, according to numerous media reports.

Provided by a Chinese commercial company, the Smart Dining Hall 3.0 system equips all the lunch counters in the cafeteria with cameras. Students lining up to get food must have their faces scanned to be checked against the existing database, a process that “takes only one second” to complete.

The system stores the ID numbers of all the students together with their portrait photos, which were taken when they first enrolled in the school. According to the school, students were advised to take “multiple shots” of the portrait photo to ensure that different facial expressions and angles could be captured by the system.

The system records not just the faces of the students, but also their account balance and the history of meals ordered. The school can even send a report of a student’s dining and nutrition intake to the parents every week, an upgrade from the previous version 2.0 system, which sends reports once per month.

The school claims that use of facial recognition technology to purchase meals in the cafeteria is more efficient than the use of a lunch coupon card, as students who forget to bring their lunch card can still be served lunch. Previously there were “up to 50 students” per day forgetting to bring the lunch card, said Zhang Guan-chao, the school’s vice principle.

Vice principle Zhang also said that due to the system’s “success,” the school is considering introducing similar facial recognition system to help record attendance in the classroom. “This technology can even be used to monitor which student speaks more during classes, who studies and works harder in the library, sports field, and science lab,” Zhang said.

No Consent

Facial recognition technology is being rapidly introduced across different sectors in China, but the decision to impose this system on people’s everyday life is rarely if ever decided by the people that the system monitors. In the case of Hangzhou No. 11 High School, none of the Chinese state media reports mention whether any of the parents or pupils have consented to such a system being installed in the school.

Last week, the South China Morning Post reported that the Chinese regime began building in 2015 a gigantic surveillance system that will connect security cameras across all of China to a database that contains the facial ID profile of all Chinese citizens.

It is unknown when the system will be completed, according to the report, as the current technical limits of facial recognition technology and the large population base mean that the system will take considerable time to build and to optimize.

The report, though, adds to the growing concern that China is taking the next steps, as in Hangzhou No. 11 High School, to put all Chinese citizens into one gigantic database that it can monitor, an intention that the Chinese regime has never been kept secret.

From The Epoch Times

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