China presents mandatory facial scans for phone users

BEIJING: China will require telecom operators to collect facial scans when new phone users register at offline outlets starting Sunday, according to the country's information technology authority, while Beijing continues to tighten cyberspace controls.

In September, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued a notice about safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of citizens online, which established the rules to enforce the registration of real names.

The notice says that telecom operators must use and other technical means to verify the identities of people when they take a new phone number.

A China Unicom The customer service representative told AFP that the portrait matching requirement on December 1 means that customers who sign up for a new phone number may have to register by turning their heads and blinking.

In the next steps, our ministry will continue ... increasing supervision and inspection ... and strictly promoting the management of the real name registry for telephone users, said the September notice.

Although the Chinese government has pressed for the registration of real names for telephone users since at least 2013, which means that identification cards are linked to new telephone numbers, the movement to take advantage of artificial intelligence occurs as the Facial recognition technology gains traction in China, where the technology is used for everything from supermarket boxes to surveillance.

Online, Chinese social media users reacted with a combination of support and concern for the December 1 facial verification notice, with some concerns expressing that their biometric data could be leaked or sold.

This is too much, wrote a user on Weibo, similar to Twitter, commenting on an article about the new rules.

Control and then more control, published another.

While researchers have warned about the privacy risks associated with collecting facial recognition data, consumers have widely adopted the technology, although China saw one of its first demands on facial recognition last month.

In early November, a Chinese professor filed a lawsuit against a safari park in the eastern province for requiring facial scans to enter, according to the local court.

In addition to mobile users, the Chinese social media site Weibo was forced to implement real-name registration in 2012.

The supervision of social networks has increased in recent years as part of the impulse of the Chinese government to promote the healthy and orderly development of, protect the security of the state and the public interest.