China Law Requires Face Scans For Mobile Services

Clay Curtis
December 3, 2019

Mobile customers are already required to show a form of identification when signing up for new phone contracts, but the face scans will now be used to verify the person is a genuine match to their ID.

Customers in China who wish to register for new mobile phone services will be required to get their faces scanned, a media report said.

Because most Chinese internet users access the internet through their mobile phones, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology believes the latest regulations will "strengthen" the system. The ministry also added it wanted to curb down identity theft and resale of SIM cards.

Commenting under an article about the new rules, one user wrote: 'This is a bit too much'.

On Thursday, Beijing joined about a dozen cities across China in using facial recognition systems on its underground rail network.

Where else in China has the technology been used?

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Some experts said they were concerned that the technology was being implemented without the proper safeguards in place. The "gait recognition" technology has reportedly already been rolled out in several Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

There are many privacy concerns, such as the government uses data to suppress ethnic minorities.

The Chinese government announced in September that residents applying for a new mobile or internet device will have their faces scanned by telecommunications carriers.

A potential knock-on effect: The use of facial recognition in China might seem irrelevant to people in other countries, but Chinese groups are helping to shape United Nations standards for the technology, the Financial Times reported yesterday.

Facial scanning is more widespread in China for payment authentication on shop systems as opposed to verifying a payment card on your personal device, but the practice is coming into more criticism and it is rolled out without much explanation as to its goal.

"The misuse of legally collected data may be a bigger threat, but we don't have regulations on the misuse of data in the criminal law", Lao said. Even in a crowd of tens of thousands of people with "perfect precision".

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