China introduces mandatory face scans for new SIM card purchases

Remigio Civitarese
Dicembre 2, 2019

People in China will need to undergo a facial recognition scan when buying new SIM cards, according to rules introduced on Sunday, as the country seeks to tackle telecommunications fraud and improve cybersecurity.

Previously, prospective mobile service buyers were only required to present their identity cards when registering for new SIM cards.

China is referring to this new mandate as "portrait matching" and said in a September notice that its intention is "safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of citizens online".

Details: The rule ensures that internet personas are tied to real identities as online platforms typically require users to register their phone numbers when signing up for services requiring real-name verification.

Telecom operators should use this facial scan to match the identity of the person to their identity documents.

"Control, and then more control", posted another.

Facial recognition is already widely used in China, with Beijing aiming to install 400 million new surveillance cameras by 2020.

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

A potential knock-on effect: The use of facial recognition in China might seem irrelevant to people in other countries, but Chinese groups are helping to shape United Nations standards for the technology, the Financial Times reported yesterday.

In early November, a Chinese professor filed a claim against a safari park in Hangzhou in the eastern Zhejiang province for requiring face scans for entry, according to the local court.

Oversight of social media has ramped up in recent years as part of the Chinese government's push to "promote the healthy, orderly development of the Internet, protect state security and public interest".

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