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China: do you want a SIM? Let’s register your face

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If you want to buy a new SIM in China, you now need to have your face scanned: it will be used for facial recognition.

Yesterday a new law came into force in China, which obliges the applicants for a SIM card to undergo a facial scan to be used later for facial recognition, an increasingly common practice in the Asian country. To sign a new contract with a mobile operator, it will no longer be sufficient to provide an identity document.

Your face for a SIM: it happens in China

From Beijing, there are reassurances as to what the reasons for such a choice are: “protecting the rights and interests of citizens in cyberspace, as well as preventing identity theft and unauthorized resale of cards”. A statement in any case not enough to clear the field of doubts and fears related to the implications for privacy.

In China, the use of facial recognition and more generally artificial intelligence for surveillance purposes (we have written several times on these pages) is increasingly common. While technology is useful for speeding up and simplifying services and activities such as payments or access to locations (concerts, shows, airports, etc.), there are those who fear it could be used to exert excessive control and almost dystopian towards the population, especially those ethnic minorities (The Uyghurs of the Islamic faith on all) several times and have long been targeted in the territory.

However, this issue is not only in the East. In recent months, Europe has questioned the need to introduce stakes in such practices in an attempt to maintain the protection of privacy as an inviolable privacy priority.

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