In September, China’s Industry and Information Technology Ministry issued a notice to all the telecom operators in China. The notice issued some rules for enforcing real-name registration for “safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of citizens online.” 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. And now China has mandated a new rule, According to the rule, telecom operators will have to collect the face scans when registering new phone users at offline outlets starting Sunday.
The new policy will limit a person’s ability to stay anonymous on the internet. After the new rule, Citizens will need to submit a copy of their national identification card and a photo taken on the outlet. Concerned citizens and privacy rights activists say the face-scan policy takes things too far. Tech companies such as SenseTime, Tencent, Alibaba’s Ant Financial and Xiaomi are slowly catching up on the new regulations. They have set up a facial recognition standardization working group in their organization.
The country has integrated the facial recognition systems into everything from surveillance to payments to toilet paper dispensers. China is known to use facial recognition to track and suppress ethnic minorities, and also uses it against virtually everyone to spot travelers and cars that are on a state-run blacklist.