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Beijing wants to use facial recognition to blacklist unruly tourists

Chinese tourists have a reputation for bad behavior and China’s capital is sick of it

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

In this week's news on China's widespread face recognition tech, Chinese authorities have found a new target in need of constant surveillance: Unruly tourists.

City park authorities in Beijing are considering installing facial recognition cameras in the city's travel hot spots and blacklisting bad-mannered tourists. Uncivilized tourists would be punished by restricting ticket purchases for museums, parks and other tourist spots, state media has reported.
The country has seen an overwhelming number of facial recognition systems deployed during the past couple of years ranging between convenient, Orwellian and mildly ridiculous. This one may belong to the first category.
Chinese tourists have earned a reputation for bad behavior abroad that includes fighting over makeup in a South Korean duty-free shop and harassing a Swiss swan.
Bad tourist behavior is equally irksome for people within China. The China National Tourism Administration started stricter monitoring in 2016 with nearly 700 people placed on a travel blacklist as of last year.
Wuhan University used to be famed for its thousand cherry trees. Now it’s famed for its hoards of selfie-seeking tourists. (Picture: Handout)
Different tactics are already being used in other popular areas. One university in China created an app filter for TikTok mimicking falling cherry blossoms to stop tourists from violently shaking trees for the sake of a selfie.

TikTok, the viral short video sensation, has its roots in China

Beijing's Municipal Park Management Center decided to explore facial recognition after the latest rush of tourists to the city's attractions during the recent Tomb Sweeping holiday.

A similar strategy has been used to shame jaywalkers in some parts of China. Using cameras and facial recognition, offenders see their images and names flash up on giant digital screens by the roadside. The company behind the jaywalker name-and-shame system, Intellifusion, has also created a facial recognition system that scans the streets for drivers without a valid license.
China is the largest market for facial recognition technologies in the world, according to a report from Gen Market Insight. The country’s omnipresent cameras have prompted both privacy and human rights concerns.

“Skynet”, China’s massive video surveillance network

The boom in facial recognition deployment has been accompanied by the development of various blacklists like the one for ill-behaved tourists. Earlier this year, certain train stations started implementing facial recognition to check tickets and alert railway authorities of blacklisted lawbreakers.

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