A regulation that requires Chinese citizens to scan their faces when registering new mobile phones came into effect on Sunday (Dec. 1), as Beijing works to ensure the identities of the country’s internet users.
The Chinese government said the new rule, announced in September, is intended to “protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace.” According to Liberty Times, Chinese nationals are required to keep their photos on file when purchasing new phones or signing mobile contracts, and the new implementation will strengthen government surveillance over its population.
For many years, China has attempted to match internet users with their real identities as a means to prevent internet fraud and other forms of cybercrimes. However, the new regulations has raised privacy concerns.
Jeffery Ding, an expert on Chinese artificial intelligence at Oxford University, worried the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would use the face scans to track the population and monitor comments and actions. The CCP has used similar technology in many controversial cases, including the detention of more than 1 million Uighur Muslims, with the help of facial recognition.