Getting a SIM card in China now requires a facial recognition scan

  • Getting a SIM card in China now requires a facial recognition scan

Getting a SIM card in China now requires a facial recognition scan

People in China will need to undergo a facial recognition scan when buying new SIM cards, according to rules introduced on Sunday, as the country seeks to tackle telecommunications fraud and improve cybersecurity.

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced the rule in September, requiring enforcement of the new measure on December 1. It outlined that telecom operators are required to deploy "artificial intelligence and other technical methods" to match the identity of an individual before the SIM card is awarded to them.

A customer service representative for China Unicom said that the "portrait matching" requirement means customers registering for a new phone number may have to record themselves turning their head and blinking.

Mobile customers are already required to show a form of identification when signing up for new phone contracts, but the face scans will now be used to verify the person is a genuine match to their ID.

How do Chinese people feel about it?: It's hard to say for sure, given how strictly the press and social media are regulated, but there are hints of growing unease over the use facial recognition technology within the country.

Commenting under an article about the new rules, one user wrote: 'This is a bit too much'.

In addition to mobile users, Chinese social media site Weibo was forced to roll out real-name registration in 2012.

Context: China last month set up a working group for facial recognition standards that aims to assuage concerns over data security issues surrounding the technology.

In early November, a Chinese professor filed a claim against a safari park in Hangzhou, eastern Zhejiang province for requiring face scans for entry, according to the local court.

This mandate is to ensure that the rights and interests of the citizens of China are well protected.