Our faces have become the pass code to our mobile information, thanks to new-generation smartphones. A mere glance in the direction of a premier phone will cause the screen to blink to life. It feels somewhat futuristic. In China, however, this use of biometric data is child’s play. The country, known for its complete power over its 1.4bn subjects, uses that body count as an excuse to govern them through any means it deems fit. And these days it chooses to do so through its subjects’ faces. Making use of photos taken for people’s government ID cards, the Chinese government is building a database that is able to identify any face in a crowd nationwide within just three seconds. It has already fed this biometric identification into tech throughout the country. Jaywalkers, for example, are shamed by having their face and name displayed in public areas. A public park combated toilet paper theft by locking the supplies behind a dispenser powered by facial recognition software. The crackd...

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