Apple supplier screens workers via facial recognition

The overall goal is to catch anyone using a fake or borrowed ID, but more specifically, Pegatron wants to catch underage workers before they reach the factory.

Pegatron's iPhone factory
Pegatron's iPhone factory Jay Greene/CNET

An Apple supplier is using facial recognition technology to try to stop underage workers.

To screen prospective workers, Pegatron told The Wall Street Journal that it now examines the government-issued IDs of people looking for manufacturing jobs. The company began this year to match the faces of the applicants to the photos on their ID through facial recognition software. Pegatron also said it checks the names against police records.

The overall goal is to catch anyone using a fake or borrowed ID, but more specifically, Pegatron wants to catch underage workers before they reach the factory.

Pegatron has been under the spotlight following a series of worker deaths at the Chinese factory where it assembles the iPhone 5C. The recent death of 15-year-old Shi Zhaokun from pneumonia raised fears that factory conditions could be the culprit, especially since the company has faced past allegations over unsafe labor practices.

An investigation by both Pegatron and Apple turned up no evidence that Shi's pneumonia was caused by hazardous working conditions. However, the case sounded an alarm over the issue of underage employees on the assembly lines. To get a job in China, where the legal working age is 16, Shi used a fake ID to pose as a 20-year-old man. That ID featured Shi's photo but carried information about someone else.

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