Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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You now have to get your face scanned to sign up for a mobile phone contract in China

Real-face registration

After years of focusing upon real-name registration, China has entered into a new era of “real-face registration.”

Regulation that came into effect on Sunday mandates that anyone signing up for a new mobile or mobile data contract must have their face scanned to verify it matches up with their ID card.

This extra layer of security was drawn up in September by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, ostensibly as a way of reducing fraud and “protecting the legitimate rights and interests of citizens in cyberspace.”

Most Chinese netizens use their phones to access the web. Phone plans in China rely on a system of “real-name registration” where customers must present their national ID cards, allowing the government to verify the identities of hundreds of millions of Chinese internet users.

Now, they’ll also be able to match faces.

This continues China’s obsession with face-recognition technology which has been used for everything from shaming jaywalkers to dispensing toilet paper to suppressing ethnic minorities.

Some have expressed privacy concerns about the rapid spread of this tech into all areas of life — last month, for example, a professor sued a Hangzhou safari park for forcing visitors to submit to face recognition scans— however, it appears extremely unlikely that these concerns will render a change of heart in Beijing.