Published: Tue, December 03, 2019

China Now Requires a Face Scan for Every New Phone Purchase

China Now Requires a Face Scan for Every New Phone Purchase

In September this year, China's Industry And Information Technology Ministry had issued a notice in this regard to "protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace". Authorities in China have not said what will happen with customers with existing accounts.

Last week, Guangzhou police released a peer-to-peer facial recognition app called Zhen Ni (The Real You), part of China's digital ID system initiated by the Ministry of Public Security.

Lao Dongyan, a law professor at Tsinghua University, said China did not have an overarching law regulating facial recognition technologies.

According to Quartz, the new face-scan regulation is part of the Chinese government's plan to enhance population surveillance and reduce methods for staying anonymous online.

The aim is that by 2020, everyone in China will be enrolled in a vast national database that compiles fiscal and government information to give a "ranking" for each citizen.

Facial recognition tools will be used as an identifier for customers when they take out a mobile service. It is a world leader in such technologies, but more and more use of these across the country has sparked a debate.


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

The Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper, which reported on the case in November, said he was anxious that the system might result in identify theft and asked for a refund.

Has China exported any of this tech overseas? We will only see the technology expand to more regions in China by the end of 2019.

There has been USA blowback over the work Chinese firms like Megvii and SenseTime have played in Beijing's treatment of Muslim minorities.

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".

The technology is now being tested in areas such as street crossings to catch jaywalkers and China has announced that it will eventually expand its use to others like student registrations for its National College Entrance Examination.

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