Tech

China now requires a face scan to get a new mobile number

Anonymity was never an option.

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As of December 1st, China will now require its citizens to undergo a facial scan to sign up for mobile phone service. The government already required new mobile customers to provide a national ID, and this new system is intended to verify that the ID matches the customer.

China’s surveillance has only increased — Jeffrey Ding, a Chinese artificial intelligence researcher at Oxford University, told BBC News that these rules are “...connected to a very centralised push to try to keep tabs on everyone, or that's at least the ambition." In 2017, the Chinese government announced a set of four broad internet policies that require its citizens to use their real names not only for internet access, but also for online services like social networks, forums, and chat apps.

These laws also laid the groundwork for China’s social credit system, under which its people are surveilled and judged on a number of criteria that, in turn, determine what they can and can’t do, like take out a loan or board a high-speed train. There have been some modest signs of pushback to facial recognition tech by the Chinese people, but given the new rules that just went into effect, it doesn’t seem like the government will be backing down any time soon.