Ningbo real estate companies fined for illegal facial recognition use

Occurred: April 2021

A regulator in the city of Ningbo, in China's eastern Zhejiang province, fined three real estate companies for 'illegally acquiring customers’ facial information'.

According to the South China Morning Post, the three firms - China Poly Group, Sunac China Holdings, and Greenland Holdings - were fined Yuan 250,000 (USD 38,500) for violating China's consumer protection law by installing facial recognition devices at sales offices to identify customers, without informing them or obtaining their consent.

Per the SCMP, residential projects that don’t sell well in China often offer a discount to property agencies to get more buyers through the door. Capturing visitor’s facial information enables sales offices to determine who was returning with an agent, even if they are wearing a face mask.

China’s annual Consumer Protection Gala had earlier singled out international companies, including BMW, Kohler, and MaxMara - for the misuse of facial recognition.

System 🤖

Operator: China Poly Group; Sunac China Holdings; Greenland Holdings
Developer: Unclear/unknown

Country: China

Sector: Real estate

Purpose: Identify customer identity

Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Privacy; Dual/multi-use; Surveillance

Transparency: Governance; Privacy

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