Beijing subways could get facial recognition and palm scanning tech, Chinese media reports

  • The operator behind the Beijing subway system is considering introducing face scanning and other so-called biometric technology, China Daily reported.
  • It could replace traditional ticketing systems.
  • But the biometric technology could also raise fears that commuters are being spied on.
Passenger on a train in the Beijing Subway.
Donat Sorokin | TASS | Getty Images
Passenger on a train in the Beijing Subway.

The operator behind the Beijing subway system is considering introducing face scanning and other so-called biometric technology which could be used to pay for a ticket, China Daily reported on Tuesday, but the move also raises concerns over surveillance.

Facial recognition and a system for scanning people's palms could be introduced on the Beijing train network, the news website said, citing Zhang Huabing, head of enterprise development for Beijing Subway.

The technology could be used to bypass traditional ticketing systems. For example, a person's face or palm print could be recognized by a camera or sensor which then allows them through the gates to board a train. A commuter could top up an online account.

But the biometric technology could also raise fears that commuters are being spied on, especially given sensitivities in China around censorship and privacy.

China Daily said that the Shanghai Metro currently uses palm scanning for certain groups of people, disabled soldiers for instance, on a particular line of its network.