Chinese citizens now have to pass a facial recognition test when registering a new mobile number

A Xiaomi launch event in February, 2019 in Beijing. (Reuters)

As of December 1, citizens have to pass a facial recongition test to prove their identity when registering a new number in China.

Announced in September, the requirement is meant to crack down on identify theft and fraud, according to the government.

Facial recognition, like other biometric tests, is a more certain way to confirm someone's identity than providing an ID card.

The law is the latest attempt by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) to tie real names to phone numbers inside the country.

The push is similar to those that enforce identity verification in other parts of digital life in China, such as message boards and social media.

"It's connected to a very centralised push to try to keep tabs on everyone, or that's at least the ambition," Jeffery Ding, a researcher at Oxford University, told the BBC.

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