Tencent will be using facial recognition to make sure that Chinese children do not spend too much time in front of the screen during their holiday break. Students will be out of school for four weeks as China celebrates its annual Spring Festival, which kicks off the week of January 31.
However, those children will not be able to use much of their time off to catch up on any video games. Tencent has announced that each child will only be permitted 14 hours of total game time during the holiday period, with further restrictions on the calendar days that they are allowed to play. In that regard, Tencent will only allow children to play on weekends, and on certain weekdays during the Festival itself, giving them 14 pre-approved playdates during the four-week period.
Tencent will rely on facial recognition to enforce that policy, and to make sure that children are not able to use a parent’s account to sneak in some extra levels. The company first started trialing facial identification technology in 2018, before rolling out a more complete Midnight Patrol system in July. The system allows Tencent to comply with a recent Chinese National Press and Public Administration agency policy that states that citizens under the age of 18 can only access online games on Fridays, weekends, and holidays, and then only for an hour at a time.
The rule is part of a broader government push to restrict children’s access to games. As it stands, children accounted for 0.7 percent of China’s game time in September, down from 6.4 percent compared to the same month in 2020.
Game accounts belonging to minors will presumably be locked outside of the approved gaming hours. Tencent will not necessarily perform a facial recognition scan when adult players log in, but will conduct a scan if it detects suspicious online activity (for example, if someone is engaged in an extended session) to make sure that the person playing is the account holder and that a child is not sitting at the screen. Facial recognition is mandatory for anyone opening a mobile account in China, and Tencent cross-references faces with China’s national database.
Source: Business Insider
January 21, 2022 – by Eric Weiss