Chinese citizens will soon have to pass a facial recognition test to register a new mobile number
A facial recognition system at a Chinese border crossing. (Handout)
It's not uncommon for telecom providers to require an ID to sign up for a new number. Soon, however, you'll need more than that to register a mobile number in China.
Starting December 1, customers will be required to pass a facial recognition test to prove their identity when registering a new mobile number. It will also become illegal to pass your number to others.
Facial recognition, like other biometric tests, is a more certain way to confirm someone's identity than providing an ID card.
The announcement is the latest attempt by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) to tie real names to phone numbers inside the country.
Previously, all citizens had to provide was a unique state ID number, which allowed many people to register a number under someone else's name.
China's giant, data-rich population and government-run economy make it a unique competitor in the global AI development race.