Do you know Tencent is scanning the faces of your children?
If you too paste a sticker over your webcam while video gaming or web surfing, then you know what is the importance of privacy and threats of being watched. Not only for themselves, with everything being digital, the concern of parents for their kid’s privacy has also become threefold. Recently, Chinese gaming company Tencent created headlines by elevating those kinds of privacy fears much further. Allegedly, Tencent is violating the privacy of little minds by making a change in its features.
Wondering what is the change or how Tencent is hampering the privacy of children? Read more to know.
How Tencent Is Monitoring Children?
Tencent is a highly popular tech company in China and also the parent company of WeChat. It is the largest video games publisher. It has developed some famous games like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds(PubG). According to some verified sources, Tencent has recently added a Facial Recognition feature called Midnight Patrol in more than 60 Tencent games. This Midnight Patrol system was enforced on July 5. This feature will allegedly ask to do facial recognition of players.
Behind this step, there is a whole history attached. It is not just about Tencent. It is about the laws and customs of a country. Let me tell you about what is the reason behind this step of Tencent.
Why Tencent Had To Introduce Facial Recognition Feature?
There were two laws of China that influenced Tencent to take this decision.
Gaming Regulation Law 2019
A privacy law passed by the Chinese Government in 2019 is the prime reason behind this revolutionary step. According to the Chinese Government, its young generation is facing serious technology and gaming addiction issues. Reportedly, in China, constant gaming is causing nearsightedness and poor academic performance in teens and tweens. Thus, in 2019, the Chinese Government passed a law. This law forbids people under 18 to play video games between 10 pm to 8 am. Moreover, the overall screen time of minors on weekdays should not be more than 90 minutes i.e. one and a half hours.
National Identity Law Of China 2017
The other concerned law is about Chinese national identity implemented in 2017. It obligates people to use their original name and identity while creating accounts with Internet service providers.
With respect to both of these laws, the Government has come up with a new regulation on June 1, 2021. It states that gaming companies must make efforts to implement these rules by introducing an authentication system. They must verify the age of all the players and national identity too.
These policy obligations drove Tencent to introduce a facial recognition feature which is Midnight Patrol.
Earlier, young players had to provide their original name as well as ID to access Tencent games. However, to bypass this security check was fairly easy. Kids used their adult friends’ as well as Guardians’ IDs to cross this bridge. But now, as per this regulation, children have to pass face scans to confirm their identity. These face checks will take place in two situations. Either between 10 pm to 8 pm or when the game is being played for an excessive amount of time. Tencent will ensure that any minor is not playing the particular Tencent game beyond the determined interval.
Later, these face scans will be matched with the facial recognition database stored in the company.
Now, there must be some queries that have started hopping on in your mind
Will It Store This Data?
Tencent claims that it would not store any new pictures. It will only compare them to its already existing user database.
Well, you are smart enough to understand that what goes on the Internet, stays on the Internet.
Will It Be Mandatory To Go Through The Tencent’s Face Scan Check?
Surprisingly, No. But, don’t feel too relieved. Tencent will ask you to confirm your identity. If you deny then by default you will be labeled as minor. After which, Tencent can lock you out of the game.
Will It Affect Your Kids?
If you are a Chinese citizen, then yes, otherwise no. Only Chinese players will have to adhere to these new rules.
Moreover, these rules are only for mobile Tencent games. If someone is playing desktop games like League of Legends, they do not have to go through this identity check.
I tried to do some further research to find out what parents and guardians think about this new feature.
How People Reacted To Tencent’s New Policy?
Obviously, everything cannot be just black or white. While some were appreciating this heavy-handed regulation method, some were criticizing it. People took it as an effective way to control screen time for children. They think it can develop a healthy routine but also consider it as appalling. Those who know the importance of data privacy and cyber security criticized this move. They think it is the new way of Government to rule over citizen’s life and monitor their activities. According to critics, this move can also elevate the security breaches for children in the country. It is a controlling as well as a punitive move for children according to some parents.
Final Thoughts on Facial Recognition of Tencent
According to our panel of experts, the motive behind this feature of Tencent was pure. But, its mode of implementation is not at all inappropriate. Think, if someone hijack this data, how much your children can be affected.
If you as a parent are really concerned about controlling the screen time of your kids or want to deal with their video gaming addiction, then the best way is to use parental control. And, there is no other reliable parental control app like Bit Guardian Parental Control. It can effectively control the screen time of your kids by applying suitable time limits on any app or on the overall device. Moreover, you do not have to compromise your child’s privacy for controlling their gaming addiction. With Bit Guardian Parental Control, you can block any unhealthy application or website which is not suitable for your child.
In straight words, controlling the screen time of our kids is the right thing only if you are doing it the right way.