Technology 2 min read

Chinese Citizens Will Soon Need Facial Identification for Internet

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

China is among the countries with the most advanced facial recognition technology today. And now, starting December 1, Chinese citizens will not be able to access the Internet or get new phone numbers without facial identification.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced the new rule late last month. It will allow telecommunications carriers to scan people’s faces whenever they apply for new mobile numbers or access to the Internet.

The ministry stated that its decision was part of the government’s efforts to “safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of citizens in cyberspace.” Also, it’s another move to strengthen China’s fight against phone and Internet fraud.

Aside from facial scans, phone users will also be banned from passing their mobile phone numbers to others. Not only that, they will be required to check if phone numbers are being registered under their name without their permission.

No Facial Identification, No Phone Number, No Internet!

Most countries today require their citizens to submit identification cards or other credentials when applying for Internet lines or phone numbers. But, China’s move to require facial identification appears to be the first in the world.

Currently, Chinese citizens can get new phone numbers through the real-name registration system. Established in 2013, this decree requires phone carriers to validate the national IDs of people and take their photos before issuing them new numbers.

Soon, facial scanning will become an additional process to the system. People’s facial IDs will be matched with the photos shown on their national IDs.

Although the ministry of technology stated that the purpose of the new rule is to protect people’s interest, Chinese Internet users are not convinced. Many took to Chinese social media platform Weibo to air their concerns.

“How many years passed since the real-name registration system has been implemented? Scam and sales phone calls still have not been stopped! Gathering citizen’s information excessively like this is a violation of people’s civic rights,” one user wrote.

China has been heavily criticized, not just by its citizens but by other nations, too, for its strict Internet regulations and censorship. However, the government firmly supports President Xi Jinping‘s goal of achieving cyber sovereignty.

Read More: France To Implement A Nationwide Facial Recognition ID System

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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