China fined EV firm for facial recognition breach

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The firm did not inform consumers of the data collection and its use, nor did it ask for their permission, which violated the Consumer Rights Protection Law, analysts said…reports Asian Lite News.

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) firm XPeng Motors on Tuesday apologised for the illegal collection of 430,000 facial images of visitors to its stores over a six-month period, after the company was fined by market regulators for the illegal behaviour and prompted harsh criticisms on Chinese social media, Global Times reported.

In a statement sent to the Global Times, the company said that all data involved had been deleted without leaks or the illegal use of personal information.

The statement came after its Shanghai-based company was fined 100,000 yuan ($15,716.6) by local market regulators for illegal collection of over 430,000 photos of consumers’ faces without their consent from January to June this year.

The issue topped search trends on China’s social media Sino Weibo on Tuesday. Many netizens expressed anger about the company’s illegal performance, urging authorities to intensify crackdowns on companies that illegally collect private information, the report said.

According to a notice for the penalty, the company purchased 22 cameras with facial recognition functions and installed them in its stores, so as to count the number of people entering the stores and analyze the proportion of people by gender and age.

The firm did not inform consumers of the data collection and its use, nor did it ask for their permission, which violated the Consumer Rights Protection Law, analysts said.

Xpeng is not the first company to be punished for illegally collecting customers’ facial information in China. On March 15, the World Consumer Rights Day, China Media Group (CMG) reported that more than 20 stores, including Kohler and BMW 4S, had installed cameras with facial recognition functions to collect facial data without consumers’ consent.

“Facial data is highly sensitive personal information. Once leaked, it will cause great harm to personal and property security,” Zhao Zhanling, a legal counsel at the Beijing-based Internet Society of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

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