China Now Requires Facial Scans for Buying a New SIM Card

New Mobile Phone Owners Set To Have Face Scanned By Retailers

On Sunday, the nation rolled out a brand new measure that can require Chinese language shoppers to have their faces scanned earlier than they're able to buy SIM playing cards.

The new regulation for telecom operators was framed by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology as a way to "strengthen" this system and ensure that the government can identify all mobile phone users.

China's use of facial recognition is also cause for some concern - it's using the technology more and more widely, even as other countries confront concerns about its ethical consequences.

As of yesterday, every mobile phone user in China will have its face and name scanned and registered, because the country's authorities want to check the identities of hundreds of thousands of internet users.

When signing up for a mobile contract mobile data or new, people are asked to show their national identity card (as required in many countries) and have their photo taken.

Last week, China's Internet regulator announced new rules governing the use of deepfake technology, which uses AI to create hyper-realistic videos where a person appears to say or do something they did not.

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"This is a bit too much", wrote one user on Twitter-like Weibo, commenting under an article about the new rules.

It follows a 2017 move which required internet platforms to verify a user's true identity before allowing them to post online. Jeffrey Ding, a researcher on Chinese artificial intelligence at Oxford University, told the BBC that although China does intend to use the technology to boost cyber-security and reduce internet fraud, the principal intention is to monitor the population.

The new legislation is part of China's wider efforts to keep close tabs on its citizens and monitor their activities and behaviours.

There is evidence of mounting opposition to widespread facial recognition in China, whether it's on social networks or lawsuits against companies that try to make it mandatory.

But it is used increasingly often in the private sector as well, such as to pay in shops and supermarkets.

Lao Dongyan, a law professor at Tsinghua University, said China did not have an overarching law regulating facial recognition technologies.

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