Over the weekend, the Chinese government implemented controversial new laws involving facial recognition technology. Consumers in the country must now allow telecom carriers to scan their faces when they sign for a new phone service.
New regulations have been introduced that mandates carriers to perform the scans. According to the government, the change will see cases of fraud reduced. However, critics have argued the changes are merely a data collection program.
Introduced in September, the new rules are no in effect. Facial recognition technology will be used by companies. The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has not said which companies will be providing the tech.
Facial recognition tools will be used as an identifier for customers when they take out a mobile service. Authorities in China have not said what will happen with customers with existing accounts. However, it seems the new regulation is only place for new services.
China has adopted facial recognition technology faster than other nations. The country is free from the regulatory restrictions that would hamper the expansion of the controversial technology in other countries.
For example, airports and supermarkets leverage the technology, allowing customers to pay for products and services with a facial identifier.
Interestingly, the public has been largely passive as surveillance technology has expanded in China. Of course, citizens in the country are used to a controlling government. The concept of using facial recognition tech for phone services has even been welcomed by some. They argue the technology helps reduce fraud.