China introduces mandatory face scans for phone users

A notice said that Chinese telecom operators should use ‘artificial intelligence and other technical means’ to verify people’s identities when they take a new phone number. (AFP)
Updated 01 December 2019

China introduces mandatory face scans for phone users

  • Telecom operators should use ‘artificial intelligence and other technical means’ to verify people’s identities when they take a new phone number

BEIJING: China will require telecom operators to collect face scans when registering new phone users at offline outlets starting Sunday, according to the country’s information technology authority, as Beijing continues to tighten cyberspace controls.
In September, China’s industry and information technology ministry issued a notice on “safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of citizens online,” which laid out rules for enforcing real-name registration.
The notice said telecom operators should use “artificial intelligence and other technical means” to verify people’s identities when they take a new phone number.
A China Unicom customer service representative said that the December 1 “portrait matching” requirement means customers registering for a new phone number may have to record themselves turning their head and blinking.
“In next steps, our ministry will continue to ... increase supervision and inspection ... and strictly promote the management of real-name registration for phone users,” said the September notice.
Though the Chinese government has pushed for real-name registration for phone users since at least 2013 — meaning ID cards are linked to new phone numbers — the move to leverage AI comes as facial recognition technology gains traction across China where the tech is used for everything from supermarket checkouts to surveillance.
While researchers have warned of the privacy risks associated with gathering facial recognition data, consumers have widely embraced the technology — though China saw one of its first lawsuits on facial recognition last month.
In early November, a Chinese professor filed a claim against a safari park in Hangzhou, eastern Zhejiang province for requiring face scans for entry, according to the local court.
In addition to mobile users, the Twitter-like Chinese social media site Weibo was forced to roll out real-name registration in 2012.
Oversight of social media has ramped up in recent years as part of the Chinese government’s push to “promote the healthy, orderly development of the Internet, protect state security and public interest.”


Homemade ‘Nikes’ give Filipino athlete a golden edge

Updated 14 December 2019

Homemade ‘Nikes’ give Filipino athlete a golden edge

  • Filipino schoolgirl Rhea Bullos bags three gold medals at an athletics competition without wearing shoes
  • Schoolgirl had her feet wrapped in tape and iconic Nike ‘swoosh’ logo drawn on them

MANILA: To some athletes, brands count for everything when it comes to performance.
Filipino schoolgirl Rhea Bullos bagged three gold medals at an athletics competition this week without wearing shoes, opting instead to wrap her feet in tape and draw an iconic Nike “swoosh” logo on them.
Bullos, 11, was one of several on her team of 12 athletes who made their own footwear because they had only two pairs of running shoes among them at the competition in the central province of Iloilo.
Trainer Predirick Valenzuela said Bullos showed her raw talent after taking up athletics only a month ago. A pair of running shoes could make a big difference in future, he said.
“Winning three medals in a competition like that is difficult, but she did it,” Valenzuela said by telephone from the central province of Iloilo.
“It’s every athlete’s dream to wear spike shoes,” Valenzuela added. “Not necessarily Nike, as long as they have decent shoes to be able to compete.”