Facial recognition rollout reaches into mobile phones, shops and homes

Beijing implements face scans on mobile users

Under the lapsing rules, customers applying for new phone numbers need to show their national ID card and have their photos taken, not submit to a face scan.

The move, announced in September is due to come into effect today as the government says it wants to "protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace".

China has faced pushback over the technology.

Some users argue that it is a needed to combat fraud, like scam calls, but others have voiced concerns about its implications for personal data, privacy and ethics.

This follows a trend in China as the government are already using facial recognition software to survey those living within its borders.

"In the next steps, our ministry will continue to increase supervision and inspection and strictly promote the management of real-name registration for phone users", they said at the time.

The new legislation is part of China's wider efforts to keep close tabs on its citizens and monitor their activities and behaviours.

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In July, the Xinhua news agency said Beijing had, or was in the process of, installing facial recognition systems at the entrances of 59 public rental housing communities.

Facial-recognition technology is spreading in China.

But it is used increasingly often in the private sector as well, such as to pay in shops and supermarkets. Of course, it also provides the Chinese government with a handy list of SIM cards matched to the citizens who bought them.

However there are some blow-back.

Meanwhile, companies including surveillance equipment manufacturer Dahua Technology, China Telecom, and ZTE have been proposing new worldwide standards for facial recognition, video monitoring, and surveillance at the United Nation, the Financial Times reported.

Last month Guo Bing, a professor at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, filed what is believed to be the country's first lawsuit against face recognition. Some operators have already been using facial recognition in retail outlets, but the enforcement of these new regulations is set to bring millions more people into contact with the technology.

The criticism used to focus on concerns of data theft, hacking and abuse by commercial companies, he said.

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