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Getting a SIM card at any of China’s three state-owned carriers -- China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom -- now requires a face scan. (Picture: Shutterstock)

Getting a SIM card in China now requires a facial recognition scan

China says it aims to prevent identity theft and online fraud, but privacy concerns over facial recognition have been rising

This article originally appeared on ABACUS
If you need to pick up a new SIM card in China, you’re now required to have your face scanned to verify your identity. The rule was originally announced in September by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, but the law went into effect on Sunday with the aim of preventing identity theft and online fraud.

Registering for a SIM card in China already requires real-name verification, but this was previously done simply by submitting a photocopy of identification. Many online platforms and services also require a phone number or another form of real-name authentication.

China has been pushing to integrate facial recognition systems into everything from surveillance to payments to toilet paper dispensers. However, issues related to the technology that include privacy concerns, data leaks and a lack of user consent have been filling headlines in the country. Last month, China had its first facial recognition lawsuit.
Regulation has been slowly catching up. Last week, tech companies including SenseTime, Tencent, Alibaba’s Ant Financial and Xiaomi set up a facial recognition standardization working group.

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