Authorities in Beijing have installed face scanners in three public toilets near the Temple of Heaven, a popular tourist site, in a bid to stop paper theft by elderly residents.
According to local media reported on Tuesday, anyone who wants a carefully rationed 60-centimetre strip of paper has to have their face scanned by a high-definition camera, and they can only request toilet paper once every nine minutes.
After the first three days of testing the new machines, the amount of toilet paper consumed at the public restroom near the south gate of the Temple of Heaven dropped from 20 to four rolls per day, the report said.
“This is how things should work,” a resident told Beijing Evening News.
“I saw people taking endless amounts of toilet paper. This problem can now be fixed by high-tech.”
Apparently, some older residents had been stuffing as much as 10 metres of toilet paper into their bags, ignoring bathroom attendants’ complaints, the report said.
Social media users debated the issue in detail.
Some looked to expose flaws in the brave new regime: “What happens if [two bathroom goers] are twins?” asked Weibo user Donkeybaby.
Others voiced privacy concerns, annoyed at yet more surveillance in a city that boasts over 46,000 CCTV cameras.(dpa/NAN)