China Foils "Toilet Revolution" Bandits With Facial Recognition In Public Restrooms

As part of China’s efforts to spur tourism with a “toilet revolution,” Consumerist's Mary Beth Quirk reports that bathrooms at tourist sites will now use facial recognition to keep them from grabbing too much toilet paper. Yes, this means your face could be scanned in the john.

The toilet paper thieves of the Temple of Heaven Park were an elusive bunch, writes The New York Times Javier Hernandez; they looked like most park visitors, practicing tai chi, dancing in the courtyards and stopping to take in the scent of ancient cypress and juniper trees. But hidden in their oversize shopping bags and backpacks was a secret: sheet upon sheet of crumpled toilet paper, plucked surreptitiously from public restrooms.

Now the authorities in Beijing are fighting back, going so far as to install high-tech toilet paper dispensers equipped with facial recognition software in several restrooms.

Before entering restrooms in the park, visitors must now stare into a computer mounted on the wall for three seconds before a machine dispenses a sheet of toilet paper, precisely two feet in length.

If visitors require more, they are out of luck. The machine will not dispense a second roll to the same person for nine minutes.

“The people who steal toilet paper are greedy,” said He Zhiqiang, 19, a customer service worker from the northwestern region of Ningxia.


“Toilet paper is a public resource. We need to prevent waste.”

Qin Gang, 63, taking a stroll through the park with his wife, said China’s history of crippling poverty had left some people eager to exploit public goods.

“It’s a very bad habit,” Mr. Qin said.


“Maybe we can use technology to change how people think.”

One wonders which department of Chinese natural resource protection was responsible for deciding that 24 inches of single-ply TP was 'enough'.. or for that matter, why a 9 minute break between wipes? Still, these are the wonders of 'new' communism