China to curb facial recognition in schools

BEIJING (GN): The Chinese government says it plans to “curb and regulate” the use of facial recognition technology and other apps in schools.

The pledge came from Lei Chaozi, director of science and technology at China’s Ministry of Education.

It follows reports a university in China was trialling the technology to monitor the attendance and behaviour of students in class. The pilot project was met with criticism online over privacy concerns. Images appeared to show China Pharmaceutical University (CPU) in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, using the technology at school gates and dormitories.

Last year a similar network of monitoring devices, able to give teachers real-time feedback on student concentration levels, was reportedly installed at a high school in Hangzhou.

Lei told website thepaper.cn that the use of facial recognition technology on campus raises privacy concerns.

“We need to be very careful when it comes to students’ personal information,” Lei said (in Chinese). “Don’t collect it if it’s not necessary. And try to collect as little as possible if we have to.”

The Ministry of Education issued new guidance on Thursday on the use of all sorts of apps used by education providers, China Daily reports. It recommends education authorities and schools seek the opinions of parents, students and teachers before introducing technology. Any apps in use have to be registered by the end of this year to build a database for better supervision, reports say.

China’s 1st homemade polar icebreaker to begin maiden voyage

Xinhua (SHENZHEN): China’s first domestically built polar icebreaker will begin its maiden voyage in October from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

The voyage for “Xuelong 2,” or “Snow Dragon 2,” will start during the seventh China Marine Economy Expo, which will run from Oct.14 to 17, according to Li Yuchun, deputy director of Shenzhen planning and natural resources bureau. The expo will bring together more than 400 enterprises at home and abroad, including around 100 industry leaders or Fortune 500 companies, said Li.

On its maiden voyage, Xuelong 2 will sail for Antarctica together with “Xuelong,” the only Chinese icebreaker in service, in the country’s 36th research mission to the region, according to a previously announced plan. The vessel is 122.5 meters long and 22.3 meters wide, with a displacement of 13,996 tonnes and a navigation capability stration.