China introduces mandatory facial recognition for mobile phone subscriptions

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Anyone who wants to take out a mobile phone subscription in China must have a facial scan performed from Sunday. The measure applies in addition to the existing obligation to show an identity card.

The move against Chinese telecom companies, announced in September and effective December 1, aims to protect “the legitimate rights and interests of citizens in cyberspace,” Beijing said. The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in the announcement that the facial recognition is intended to guarantee that customers register a mobile subscription with their real name. At the same time, telecom companies are obliged to make it clear to customers through advertising posters and SMS that they are not allowed to resell SIM cards. The BBC writes about the introduction.

For years, China has been developing and adopting facial recognition techniques on a large scale. Chinese companies now play a major role at the United Nations in setting standards for facial recognition, video monitoring and vehicle tracking. The FT reports this on the basis of leaked documents. ZTE, Dahua and China Telecom, among others, would use their expertise in this area to help shape the standards.

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