Starting December 1, Chinese citizens will have to allow telecommunications carriers to scan their faces when signing up for internet access or to get a new phone number.
The new rule was announced by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on September 27 (link in Chinese). Roughly translated via Google, the statement says the reason for the new changes is to “earnestly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of citizens in the cyberspace.” On top of requiring carriers to use facial recognition to see whether an applicant matches their ID, people will no longer be able to transfer SIM cards to others. Lastly, MIIT wants carriers to verify whether mobile or landline phones are correctly registered under real names, and terminate those that aren’t. At the end of its statement, MIIT somewhat ominously notes that it will “increase supervision and inspection, strengthen assessment accountability, supervise the implementation of work, [and] continue to strictly promote the real-name registration management of telephone users.”