Authorities in Beijing have installed facial recognition software in the stalls of the Temple of Heaven Park, to help catch toilet paper thieves. It may seem like the pettiest of powder room problems, but apparently, toilet paper theft at the temple was out of hand.
In order to get a few sheets, visitors now need to make eye contact with a computer before the dispenser spits out a serving of toilet paper. The facial recognition program keeps the dispenser from offering another round to the same person; if you need more, you reportedly need to wait for a whole nine minutes.
Visitors say the biggest target of this new crackdown are older people who stuff their bags and pockets full of toilet paper to take back home.
“Many old people come here for free toilet paper. They were probably born in 1940s or 1950s,” said Wu Qingqi. “I think it’s necessary. There are many people wasting public resources,” Wu said.
Many public restrooms in china do not provide toilet paper, and visitors are expected to bring their own. But due to the growing number of both domestic and international tourists, the country is in the process of revamping and adding thousands of public toilets that are more in line with foreign travelers expectations.
While privacy may be an issue, it takes a backseat for many in eliminating the problem of paper-nappers.”You can do nothing about it even though it’s related to personal privacy,” said Liu Mei, a housewife visiting the park. “People come here for free toilet paper, they have already lost their self-dignity. Do you think they would understand what personal privacy is?”