Pegatron, Apple’s iPhone 5c assembly partner has began using facial recognition technology to screen applications for its iPhone plant to fight against the growing underage-worker problem, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The legal working age in China is 16, so when the news of a 15-year-old child worker’s death was in the news, all eyes were on Pegatron and its factory conditions. Although Apple and Pegatron’s investigation found that the child’s death from pneumonia had nothing to do with the working conditions, Pegatron has decided to show a detailed description of the system it uses to scan tens of thousands of its workers.
However, Shi’s case shows there are major loopholes the company needs to overcome.
Pegatron said applicants for its assembly line have their government-issued IDs checked for authenticity. Their faces are then matched to their ID photos through facial recognition technology, to weed out those using borrowed ID cards. Their names are also checked against police records.
But while in theory this should help the company avoid employing underage workers, Shi’s case shows that it doesn’t. The child (or his parents?) was able to obtain a fake ID card that showed his photo but another person’s information.
Underage working is a major issue in China’s factories. Apple’s major assembly partner, Foxconn, was found to be hiring underage workers, so the company was under pressure to fix the issue. The latest Fair Labor Association investigation found that almost everything is working according to the schedule, except legal overtime hours.