Springer Nature and Wiley have concerns about lack of consent in genetics and facial-recognition papers.
Two science publishers are reviewing the ethics of research papers in which scientists backed by China’s government used DNA or facial-recognition technology to study minority groups in the country, such as the predominantly Muslim Uyghur population.
Springer Nature (which publishes Nature) and Wiley want to check that the study participants gave informed consent, after researchers and journalists raised concerns that the papers were connected to China’s heavy surveillance operations in the northwestern province of Xinjiang. China has attracted widespread international condemnation — and US sanctions — for mass detentions and other human-rights violations in the province. The Chinese government says that it is conducting a re-education campaign in the region to quell what it calls a terrorist movement.
“We are very concerned about research which involves consent from vulnerable populations,” says a spokesperson from Springer Nature (Nature’s news team is editorially independent of its publisher).