A Man In China Was Fined After A Traffic Camera Captured Him 'Scratching' His Face

The traffic camera was using artificial intelligence (AI).

  • Cover image via BBC

About a week earlier in eastern China, a traffic camera using artificial intelligence "caught" a man scratching his face and sent him a notification stating that he had violated the laws of the road

The bizarre incident happened when the male motorist, surnamed Liu, was driving in Jinan, eastern Shandong province, and had raised his hand to scratch his face while passing a traffic camera, BBC reported via the Jilu Evening Post.

Liu's act of scratching his face was caught by the traffic camera, using artificial intelligence, following which the Jinan Traffic Police Department (JTPD) issued him a fine of 50 yuan (RM30.34) and 2 points off his driving licence.

Image via BBC

He was told that the fine was for "driving while holding a phone"

However, the man wasn't using a phone while driving.

And a surveillance photo of his "offence" that was attached with the notification sent to him also didn't show that he was using a phone.

Still, he was fined because the artificial intelligence technology mistook his face scratching as him talking on the phone while driving, Khaleej Times reported.

After his call the local traffic department didn't help solve the problem, he posted the surveillance photo on Chinese social media

Liu took to social media after "no one would help him" over the phone.

"I often see people online exposed for driving and touching [others'] legs. But this morning, for touching my face, I was also snapped 'breaking the rules'!" he wrote.

Image via Sina Weibo

Liu's post went viral, leaving many to question the Jinan Traffic Police Department's surveillance cameras and their AI tech

While many were amused by his case, joking that the positioning of the man's hand signalled he certainly appeared to be on "the new invisible mobile phone", others pointed out the privacy concerns, lamenting the level of surveillance placed on them.

One person commented, "This is quite embarrassing, that monitored people have no privacy." Another one said, "Chinese people’s privacy – is that not an important issue?"

Following the man's social media virality, the city's traffic authority decided to review the situation by paying close attention

Global Times reported that the JTPD has now cancelled the man's fine, telling 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 talking on the phone.

To which, one Weibo user jokingly posted, saying: "Next time, remember to show your palm to the camera before you scratch."

Image via QLWB

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