Chinese authorities have installed facial recognition systems at two border checkpoints between Hong Kong and Shenzhen to catch people transporting goods purchased tax-free in the island territory and selling them at a profit on the mainland, Malaysian news website The Star Online reports.
The system has been deployed at the Shenzhen Bay and Lo Wu checkpoints to catch people who engage in the illegal reselling practice, who are known as “parallel traders.” The General Administration of Customs posted a message on social media service Weibo which said the technology will also speed up processing for people travelling between the two cities.
“Passengers shuttling between Shenzhen and Hong Kong can now just walk though the gates after their travel documents have been verified, as the new facial recognition system will automatically capture their faces,” the agency said.
A Shenzhen customs official told the South China Morning Post that the system is still in the trial phase. Travellers passing through the checkpoints already use e-channels to verify their identities with identity cards and thumb prints, but on the Shenzhen side have had to present ID cards to be manually checked against a database of suspected parallel traders, according to The Star.
Hong Kong Democratic Party legislator and lawyer James To Kun-sun expressed concern that the images captured would not be subject to international data protection standards. “With this case, honestly, I don’t know how they will use it,” he said.
Biometrics adoption in Hong Kong has been steady, particularly for financial services, with Daon and Tradelink partnering to deploy fingerprint and facial recognition authentication for customers of Dah Sing Bank as a recent example.