This Sunday a law has come into force that forces Chinese telecommunications companies to register the user’s facial biometric parameters of any new mobile phone, which increases state control over the population and its use of the Internet.
Beijing argues that this new standard, announced in September, aims to “protect the legitimate rights and interests of citizens in cyberspace,” according to the Taiwan News Taiwan news portal.
This regulation is in addition to the one that obliges to keep the photographs taken when a mobile phone is changed or a new contract is signed with the telecommunications companies, which makes it increasingly difficult to use pseudonyms on the Internet without the authorities knowing the true identity of the users.
Formally it aims to tackle fraud and computer crimes, but these rules on facial recognition have been criticized for violating users’ privacy.
An expert in Chinese artificial intelligence at Oxford University, Jeffery Ding, has warned in statements to Taiwan News that the Chinese authorities will use these facial scanners to follow the population and monitor comments and actions.
Chinese institutions have already repeatedly used facial recognition technology to resolve controversial cases and campaigns such as the one that led to the arrest of more than one million Uighur Muslims.