Chinas facial recognition rollout reaches into mobile phones, shops and homes

Nellie Chapman
December 3, 2019

The MIIT said the move was made "to safeguard the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace", and would help protect phone users from fraud.

Initially introduced in September, the coverage goals to guard the "respectable rights and pursuits of the plenty" by cracking down on fraud, resold SIM playing cards, and unlawful telephone customers, based on an announcement from China's Ministry of Business and Data Expertise.

They require new phone plan users to submit face scans alongside their national identification card information, ensuring their devices are linked to their real identities.

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Last month Chinese state media announced the development of a new "super camera", and artificial intelligence-driven 500-megapixel camera capable of identifying individual faces in crowds of tens of thousands of people in "perfect detail".

Online, Chinese social media users reacted with a mix of support and worry over the December 1 facial verification notice, with some voicing concerns their biometric data could be leaked or sold.

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But others said they hoped it could provide protections against scammers, with another Weibo user writing, "As someone who has had their identity stolen, I feel relieved". "What they [the government] are afraid?"

China is widely regarded as a surveillance state.

Facial recognition has been gaining momentum in China. Some operators have already been using facial recognition in retail outlets, but the enforcement of these new regulations is set to bring millions more people into contact with the technology.

Chinese mobile operators are legally obligated scan the faces of any new customer using facial recognition technology.

Nevertheless, the technology's increased presence has been met with pushback as some question whether it is being overused.

In recent times, the nation has develop into a world chief in facial recognition, as privateness considerations which may impede the event and deployment of the expertise elsewhere have been given a low precedence in China. In November, a professor filed what is believed to be the country's first lawsuit against the use of facial recognition.

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