13:14 03/12/2019 | 7newstar.com
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China requires Chinese telecom carriers to scan the faces of users registering new mobile phone services
(Tech) The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) did not say which companies will provide the telecom providers with these services, but China is home to some of the world’s leaders in facial recognition software, including Megvii and SenseTime.
China’s telecom operators must now use facial recognition technology and other means to verify the identity of people opening new mobile phone accounts. China’s three largest carriers are state-owned China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile. It was unclear how the law applies to existing mobile accounts.
Supermarkets, subway systems, and airports already use facial recognition technology. Alibaba gives customers the option to pay using their face at its Hema supermarket chain and runs a hotel in its headquarters city of Hangzhou where guests can scan their face with their smartphones for advance check-in.
The metro systems of some major Chinese cities have announced they will use the technology, with government-owned newspaper China Daily saying Beijing will use it to classify passengers to allow for different security check measures. Chinese police are also known to have high-tech surveillance gadgets, such as glasses with built-in facial recognition.
Some users argue that the tech is a needed to combat fraud, like scam calls, but others have voiced concerns about its implications for personal data, privacy, and ethics. One rare case of opposition has involved a university lecturer who sued a wildlife park in Hangzhou after it replaced its fingerprint-based entry system with one that used facial recognition technology.
Countries from Myanmar to Argentina have purchased surveillance technology from the likes of China’s ZTE and Huawei as part of plans to create smart cities. There has been U.S. blowback over the role Chinese firms like Megvii and SenseTime have played in Beijing’s treatment of Muslim minorities. The United States expanded its trade blacklist in October to include these firms and others, barring them from buying components from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval.
The technology is currently being tested in areas such as street crossings to catch jaywalkers, and China has announced that it will eventually expand its use to other cases - like student registration for its National College Entrance Examination.