China is ramping up its attacks on privacy, with new rules due to take effect requiring all citizens to submit to facial recognition scans when registering for mobile service. The BBC is reporting the new rules were first announced in September and went into effect December 1.
China has been working for years to eliminate online anonymity among its citizens, even requiring online platforms to verify users’ identities before they’re allowed to post content. These new regulations are an effort to “strengthen” the government surveillance system and give them a way to track mobile users.
According to the BBC, “Jeffrey Ding, a researcher on Chinese artificial intelligence at Oxford University, said that one of China’s motivations for getting rid of anonymous phone numbers and internet accounts was to boost cyber-security and reduce internet fraud.
“But another likely motivation, he said, was to better track the population: ‘It’s connected to a very centralised push to try to keep tabs on everyone, or that’s at least the ambition.’”
This goal is much easier in a country like China, where the vast majority of citizens access the internet via their phones. China is already known as a surveillance state, where facial recognition is regularly used to track citizens. This latest move will only increase the government’s surveillance powers.