China has implemented mandatory use of facial recognition technology for SIM registrations.
The regulation was announced in September by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), with operators obliged to activate “portrait comparison” verification by 1st December.
The Chinese government claims that scanning the faces of SIM owners as part of the registration process and identifying them using AI will help to crack down on illegally reselling SIM cards. Additional new legislation obliges operators to stipulate in their terms of service that it is against the law to resell SIMs and publicise this law via a campaign.
The big three operators – China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom – are all enforcing the new legislation, although their public communication does not specify whether their existing subscribers will need to submit their biometric verification data at any point.
The MIIT stated that the new regulation would “lay a solid foundation for the construction of a network integrity system” and “strengthen the management of real name registration of telephone users to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of citizens in cyberspace.”