EIP Coffee Break
Snippets of Court Cases, Provisions, and Key Observations about China’s IP Landscape


China Finally Clamps Down on Facial Recognition Technology

August 2021

Around the end of July 2021, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) issued a new Provision concerning the application of law in super-hot technology: facial recognition. This Provision is a legal explanation from the SPC explaining how the law should be applied or interpreted in a litigation.

This Provision emphasizes that facial information is sensitive biometric information. It is considered a type of personal information having the strongest social attributes, yet at the same time it is very easy to collect. It is fundamentally unique and unchangeable. Once leaked, it will cause extreme damage to individuals’ personal safety and property, and may even threaten public safety. Most importantly, the Provision emphasizes that protection of personal information is of great importance, and provides a lot more clarity on how various types of facial recognition technology would be considered with respect to their impact on an individual’s personal privacy rights. Examples span anywhere from how stores collect facial recognition information to how businesses sometimes use unreasonable methods to bundle consent of use of their face together with all authorizations.

We welcome such a change: China is finally becoming serious about personal information protection after so many years. This Provision will have a huge impact on the implementation of patents that use facial recognition technologies, and in turn will affect the value of such patents. As for whether it will affect such patent applications from the administrative order level, we will observe and see what happens now that the Provision has formally been implemented (1 Aug 2021).

Source: 最高法发布审理使用人脸识别技术处理个人信息相关民事案件的司法解释


We will keep you updated on any further developments. Stay tuned for more important updates on IP law in China.

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This article is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or a legal opinion on a specific set of facts.