China introduces facial recognition technology for mobile phone users

02 Décembre, 2019, 21:08 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Passengers use smartphones in Qingdao city east China's Shandong province 18 June 2019

Customers in China who buy SIM cards or register new mobile phone services must have their faces scanned under a new law that came into effect yesterday.

The new rule is introduced by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and was announced back in September.

Telecom operators will collect face scans when new phone users are registered at offline outlets starting Sunday, according to the country's information technology authority.

The reason for the new rules are to ensure that people using the internet are doing so under their real identities.

The Agence France-Presse news agency cited a source from the state-owned telecoms giant China Unicom as saying the "portrait matching" requirement would mean that people registering a new phone number would have to record themselves turning their head and blinking. That same notice also said that the government "will continue to ... increase supervision and inspection ... and strictly promote the management of real-name registration for phone users".

However, these users are now required to submit to a mandatory facial scan to secure a new phone number or Internet connection.

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The facial scan data could be used for the surveillance of Chinese citizens.

"This is a bit too much", wrote one user on Twitter-like Weibo, commenting under an article about the new rules. Social media firms were forced to roll out real-name registration nearly a decade ago.

Context: China last month set up a working group for facial recognition standards that aims to assuage concerns over data security issues surrounding the technology.

In November, a university professor from Zhejiang province in eastern China filed a lawsuit against a wildlife park which required using its facial recognition system to access the facility.

This mandate is to ensure that the rights and interests of the citizens of China are well protected.

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