A man in eastern China received a fine after a traffic camera using artificial intelligence captured him scratching his face, it’s reported.
According to the Jilu Evening Post, the male motorist surnamed Liu was driving on Monday in Jinan, eastern Shandong province, and had raised his hand to scratch his face while passing a traffic camera.
The next thing he knew, he’d received a notification instructing him that he had violated the laws of the road for “driving while holding a phone”. A surveillance picture of his “offence” was attached.
He was told that he would receive two points on his licence and was also ordered to pay a 50 yuan (£5.70; $7.25) fine.
“I often see people online exposed for driving and touching [others’] legs,” he said on the popular Sina Weibo microblog,” “but this morning, for touching my face, I was also snapped ‘breaking the rules’!”
He shared the surveillance picture of himself that he had been sent, and said that he was going to go the authorities to try to sort the situation, after “no one would help him” over the phone.
The Global Times newspaper says that the city’s traffic authority have now cancelled his ticket, and told him that “the traffic surveillance system automatically identifies a driver’s motion and then takes a photo”, which is why his face-scratching had been mistaken for him taking a phone call.
While many online are amused by his case joking that the positioning of his hand signalled he certainly appeared to be on an “invisible” phone, some are also voicing their concerns about the level of surveillance placed on them.
“This is quite embarrassing,” says one, “that monitored people have no privacy.”
“Chinese people’s privacy – is that not an important issue?” another asks.
There are more than 170 million surveillance cameras and the country has plans to install a further 400 million by 2020.
Many are fitted with artificial intelligence including facial recognition technology, and whereas some can read simple faces, others can estimate age, ethnicity and gender.