New Mobile Phone Owners Set To Have Face Scanned By Retailers

New Mobile Phone Owners Set To Have Face Scanned By Retailers

Recent reports indicate that China has about 854 million internet users.

"Obtaining people's personal data needs their consent, according to China's laws and regulations, but in reality, facial recognition technologies are widely used while the public rarely knows about them".

The new rule, announced for the first time in September by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, came into effect on Sunday, December 1.

Following various rumors, China will now start scanning faces before issuing a new mobile phone or a new SIM card to people living in the country.

The government says it will be used to "protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace [and] reduce internet fraud".

That said, even this particular area of identity verification isn't completely fresh for Chinese phone users.

China has for years been trying to enforce rules to ensure that everyone using the internet does so under their "real-name" identities. China's digital ID is integrated with popular online platform WeChat, allowing users to sync their national ID cards with the app and use their phones as IDs to buy train tickets or books hotels.

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".

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".

But it is used increasingly often in the private sector as well, such as to pay in shops and supermarkets.

In November, Guo Bing, an associate professor of law at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, filed a lawsuit against a safari park in Hangzhou, eastern Zhejiang province because it required members to enter via a facial recognition lane. The world has accepted it will be caught on CCTV every day, but facial recognition takes things into an Orwellian zone that many are uncomfortable with - the idea that a computer system could accurately track your movements, ID you, and then forward that data on to another party.

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