China introduces mandatory face scans for all phone users

China is set to introduce mandatory face scans for every phone user as a requirement for registering new mobile phone services by telecom operators.

China seek to verify the identities of the country’s hundreds of millions of internet users with the introduction of this mandatory face scan announced in September and due to take effect Sunday, according to the BBC.

China introduces mandatory face scans for all phone users


China’s industry and information technology ministry issued a notice on “safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of citizens online”, which laid out rules for enforcing real-name registration.

The notice said telecom operators should use “artificial intelligence and other technical means” to verify people’s identities when they take a new phone number.

A China Unicom customer service representative told AFP that the December 1 “portrait matching” requirement means customers registering for a new phone number may have to record themselves turning their head and blinking.

“In next steps, our ministry will continue to…increase supervision and inspection…and strictly promote the management of real-name registration for phone users,” said the September notice.

China already uses facial recognition technology to survey its population.

It is a world leader in such technologies but its intensifying use across the country in recent years has sparked debate. Social media users are sharing a mix of support and worry over the facial verification notice.

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