China’s Tencent has launched a new and controversial “time-sensitive” facial recognition system that aims to prevent children and teenagers from playing video games after dark.
The gaming platform’s facial verification system, which is now live in China, will help to monitor players and detect individuals who spend a “significant amount of time” online at night, according to the company.
The program, called Midnight Patrol, will be in place from 10pm to 8am to seek to deter minors – children and teenagers under the age of 18 – from using “tricks” to pose as adults.
The data, linked to the public security system, will scrape the people playing games online. Anyone found not in allegiance to this regulation will be immediately kicked out of the game.
Tencent will initially deploy the screening layer for over 60 popular games, including Honors of Kings & Game for Peace, but plans to add more titles in the future.
In 2019, the Chinese government passed “anti-addiction” regulations for minors, combating “gaming addition” by restricting playtime, imposing curfews, and capping in-game purchases. This regulation extended to barring minors from playing video games between 10pm and 8am and limiting them to 1,5 hours of playtime on weekdays and three hours on weekends and holidays.