Last week, China put out a regulation that needs Chinese telecom operators to scan users’ faces who will be registering for new mobile services. With this regulation, the government is now aiming to cut down the risks of fraud.
The rules will now see millions of users come under these new facial recognition rules in China. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) however, did not specify which enterprises will offer these services to the telecom operators. However, China is the main base for some of leading facial recognition software companies in world such as SenseTime and Megvii.
So What Are These New Rules?
Telecom operators in China now must use a facial recognition software compulsorily to verify the identity of a user. Operators will now use this method along with other means for user identification. This rule dictates that any new user trying to avail new mobile services must undergo the process of facial recognition.
There are three biggest telecom operators in China – China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom. Interestingly all three operators are state-owned. However, the Chines government has yet to put out any notification about how this new rule will affect the existing user accounts.
Airports, supermarkets, and subway systems are some of the places where they are already using facial recognition technology. For instance, Alibaba (BABA.N) offers users a facility to pay using facial recognition at its supermarket chain Hema. Moreover, there are hotels in Hangzhou, where users can use this technology for check-in in advance.
Some of the major metro stations in China are planning to use this technology in the very near future. The government is aiming to use it for classifying passengers that will allow different types of security measures.
There have been growing calls for stronger regulatory oversight. Only time will tell what lies ahead of Chinese users.