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China to make it compulsory to provide a facial scan when getting new phone numbers or internet access

China to make it compulsory to provide a facial scan when getting new phone numbers or internet access

China has pioneered the use of advanced technologies, such as facial recognition and AI, for security purposes China has moved its surveillance activities up a notch by making it compulsory for citizens acquiring a new phone number or wanting internet access to provide facial scans.  The new rule, announced by China‘s Ministry of Industry and Information

China to make it compulsory to provide a facial scan when getting new phone numbers or internet access

China has pioneered the use of advanced technologies, such as facial recognition and AI, for security purposes

China has moved its surveillance activities up a notch by making it compulsory for citizens acquiring a new phone number or wanting internet access to provide facial scans. 

The new rule, announced by Chinas Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) will apply from the beginning of December. 

MIIT claimed that it is taking the steps to “safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of citizens in the cyberspace” and to limit fraud on internet. It added that the facial scans will verify applicants against their official IDs. The ministry also claimed that the new rule would help improve internet security and the supposed fight against terrorism in the country.

The Ministry wants telecoms companies to terminate numbers that are not correctly registered under real names

As per new orders, it will be illegal for mobile phone users to share their SIM cards with anyone else. 

Chinese citizens are also being encouraged to verify whether a mobile or landline number is registered under their name without their consent. The Ministry wants telecoms companies to terminate numbers that are not correctly registered under real names.

Anyone blacklisted under the country’s ‘social credit’ system could find themselves barred from getting new numbers of even accessing the internet. 

The new laws are part of the Chinese governments wider efforts to monitor the activities and behaviour of its citizens ever-more closely. Mandating mobile carriers to scan people’s faces in exchange for internet access will make it easier for government agencies to track websites and the type of content people post on social media.

The Chinese government has already deployed facial recognition technology in various public places, including airports.

It has also been accused of resorting to widespread surveillance in the Xinjiang province of north-western China, where more than one million people are said to be interned in so-called re-education camps. Mobile phone users are also forced to run monitoring software on their devices. 

Earlier this month, the Hong Kong government banned pro-democracy activists from wearing masks – a strategy being used by demonstrators to avoid being recognised by facial recognition systems.

And last month, state media in China announced that Chinese scientists have developed a new AI-driven 500-megapixel camera, which can recognise a human face in “perfect details” in crowds of thousands of people.

The state media also claimed that the super camera could have military and public security applications.

Last year, police in China started testing Google-Glass-like smart glasses, linked to back-end servers that could identify people and car registration plates.

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