China’s Mandatory Facial Scan For Mobile Users: What Are The Global Implications?


Design by This photo taken on April 26, 2017 shows a woman trying a face recognition product as she visits the China International Cartoon and Animation Festival in Hangzhou, in eastern China's Zhejiang province. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT

Facial recognition has been the go-to solution for China’s government. Over the years, the government has quickly democratised technology to effortlessly performs security checks, surveillance, and authenticate for privacy. While the government describes the use of technology for availing superior services for the citizens, people are critical of the potential misuse of facial recognition technology.

However, amid the revolt across the country against the adoption of facial recognition, China’s government on Sunday, made facial scan mandatory for the users who will buy mobile sim.

The New Rule

The rule will apply to the telecom firms who offer SIM cards. Under this regulation, a user purchasing new phone number will have to provide government identity card along with the facial match of customers using facial recognition technology. As per the government, the idea is to protect the legitimate rights and interests of their citizens. However, this did not go down well with people and invoked criticism from all across the globe.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Join our editors every weekday evening as they steer you through the most significant news of the day, introduce you to fresh perspectives, and provide unexpected moments of joy
Your newsletter subscriptions are subject to AIM Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

Does Mandatory Facial Scans Take Surveillance To The Next Level?

In China, image recognition is being deployed in a wide range of use cases; Hong Kong police are leveraging it for three years, and it is speculated that they are using it to quell protests. Besides, the facial technology has its footprints in financial transactions; people are forced to adopt the new facilities that used computer vision techniques. Further, it is also surveillance the Xinjiang region, where citizens usually agitate for numerous religious reasons.

The technology is also expanded into public transport, concert, among others. While many do support the government for embracing the latest technologies, a few do think that the data might get compromised. Absence of robust law makes the dissent form citizens, but of late, the government is working with Chinese tech companies to draft a standard. 

Companies Assisting China In Implementing Mandatory Face Scans

MiningLamp, a Beijing-based artificial intelligence solution provider. Backed by the Tencent, China Renaissance, and more, MininigLamp got off the ground quickly to expand its initial business from identifying online frauds and ad performance evaluation.

The firm helps police in determining potential drug dealers, spot crimes, among others, in more than 60 cities. A colossal amount of data is being processed that comes from different cities through CCTV cameras and the government’s data. Police are distressed in China as the proportion of population per officer is about three times the world average. Therefore, China is actively collaborating with firms to streamline their services.

Other Countries Are Also Embracing China’s Facial Recognition Model

The mission of expanding surveillance in China has led to the rise of many facial recognition tech companies. And now, they are selling their leading computer vision-based technology globally. Countries like Paris, France, and Zimbabwe. 

More notably, Zimbabwe is en route to adopt the dystopian censorship and surveillance systems. The Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Bill of 2019 were embraced by Emmerson Mnangagwa, President and Zimbabwe. And will be placed for approval by Parliament, where it is envisioned to get approval.

CloudWalk Technology — a Chinese firm — has collaborated with the Zimbabwean government to facilitate facial recognition systems. It is feared that China will have access to the data as CloudWalk also helps police in China.


The gain in China’s facial system supremacy is allowing other countries to readily endorsing the technology, thereby, limiting the citizens’ ability to stay anonymous. Just like the surveillance systems, other countries may adopt facial scans for mobiles and proliferate it.

Facial recognition technology has been subjected to various flaws; often, it is biased and makes faulty predictions. Consequently, multiple states in the USA have rejected the adoption of the technology. 

However, most of the companies, including India, is preparing to deploy computer vision systems. Following China, more and more countries are equipping facial recognition systems without even understanding the impact of its potential misuse. Instead, they should ensure the authenticity and robustness and future outcome before endorsing it.

Rohit Yadav
Rohit is a technology journalist and technophile who likes to communicate the latest trends around cutting-edge technologies in a way that is straightforward to assimilate. In a nutshell, he is deciphering technology. Email:

Download our Mobile App

MachineHack | AI Hackathons, Coding & Learning

Host Hackathons & Recruit Great Data Talent!

AIMResearch Pioneering advanced AI market research

With a decade of experience under our belt, we are transforming how businesses use AI & data-driven insights to succeed.

The Gold Standard for Recognizing Excellence in Data Science and Tech Workplaces

With Best Firm Certification, you can effortlessly delve into the minds of your employees, unveil invaluable perspectives, and gain distinguished acclaim for fostering an exceptional company culture.

AIM Leaders Council

World’s Biggest Community Exclusively For Senior Executives In Data Science And Analytics.

3 Ways to Join our Community

Telegram group

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Discord Server

Stay Connected with a larger ecosystem of data science and ML Professionals

Subscribe to our Daily newsletter

Get our daily awesome stories & videos in your inbox