Facial recognition has helped a Chinese couple find their son who was kidnapped 30 years ago. Mao Yin had been abducted in Xian while walking home with his father, Mao Zhenjing.
Yin’s mother Li Jingzhi spent the next three decades searching for her son, and even helped 29 other families reunite with missing children. However, the breakthrough in her own case did not come until Xian police received a tip about a man in Sichuan who had purchased a child shortly after Yin went missing. After that, the police used facial recognition to narrow down their search. They analyzed a photo taken before Yin disappeared to generate an image of what he might look like as an adult, then searched for a match in a national database.
That process eventually led them to 34-year-old Gu Ningning. Subsequent DNA testing confirmed that he was indeed Zhenjing and Jingzhi’s missing son. Ningning had been purchased by a childless couple for the modern equivalent of roughly $840, and did not realize that his parents had been searching for him. The police did not share any details about the couple due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.
Police often cite the ability to find missing children as one of the primary benefits of facial recognition technology, and the conclusion of Yin’s saga demonstrates why they would be so bullish on the technology. There are still privacy concerns about the use of mass surveillance, but facial recognition can indeed help find people who would have otherwise been virtually impossible to track down.
Source: Global News
May 21, 2020 – by Eric Weiss