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China's Tencent to use facial recognition to curb young video gamers

Children's use of video games are to be restricted by Tencent Games, according to Chinese news services on Wednesday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Children's use of video games are to be restricted by Tencent Games, according to Chinese news services on Wednesday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

June 17 (UPI) -- Chinese tech behemoth Tencent has begun to use facial recognition to prevent minors from spending large sums of money while playing endless hours of video games.

Global Times and other Chinese news services reported the decision follows incidents of minors using their parents' personal information to create and pay for the accounts.

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The new regulation is being enforced after a middle school student in Huludao, Liaoning Province, played Dragon Raja, available with Tencent service, using his parents' personal data.

The Chinese student reportedly spent more than $8,700, taken without permission from his parents' accounts, in order to buy his video game characters items and accessories, according to reports.

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The facial recognition mode will be turned on when Tencent Games' system "detects" a minor is using an adult's account. The user would then be limited to 90 minutes of play daily, and three hours on holidays, according to the Global Times.

China has applied stricter guidelines for gamers under age 18. In 2019, authorities said a gaming curfew would permit video gaming between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monthly spending on video games will also be restricted to under $30 for children.

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Tencent has been pioneering new ways to implement facial recognition to make services and systems more efficient.

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The company's WeChat Pay began to accept facial scanning as payments for purchases last year.

"In China, payment methods using QR codes have replaced cash and cards in just five years. It's possible that in the next few years, new and better products could emerge to replace QR codes," said Greg Geng, vice president of Tencent's WeChat Business Group, CNBC reported in November.

Facial recognition is becoming increasingly widespread in China, as the state has stepped up monitoring to fight the coronavirus pandemic, according to Al Jazeera.

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