Chinese citizens will have to submit to a face scan in order to get a new phone number

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I miss the days when we thought that the internet would be a democratizing force for good. But technology is amoral and easily coopted by the powerful.


If you needed a better argument that facial recognition should be banned in Democratic countries…


According to Gizmodo, the MIIT totally swears that the initiative is totally designed to “earnestly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of citizens in the cyberspace”.

In North America, it will be sold as a “security feature to make access to your mobile and ISP consumer accounts easy and convenient. Smile!”


My bank today (when I was forced to call them because their website functionality left a little to be desired in one small but critical area) also advised me that they were now using audio/voice prints (may not have been exact wording) to identify clients, so I would not need to use passwords etc when I phone them in future.

I opted out. I am not yet convinced that stuff is as secure as they think and I do not want my bank having any biometric data about me. They said I could opt out but they would still use audio for security. Hang on, I say, isn’t that personal data and don’t I have a right to stop you? Ah well, they say, all our calls are recorded and so if someone calls and has difficulty with passwords and fails more than once or twice, we always have the option to listen to past calls and compare that voice with the one having problems with passwords, if we suspect attempted fraud. I thanked them for notifying me of this, aware that there may be a rare edge use case where this is helpful - and for my account’s protection - and that if I did not just let it go my only choice was to find another bank. But I still am not going to let them use a voice print to confirm it’s me when I call them.

I foresee facial recognition being sold to the populace by commercial organisations (e.g. “we scan your face to check it really is you before dispensing cash from the cash machine”) as much as by government diktat. In China the difference between commercial organisations and government is less clear.

ETA Fuck the Chinese government and I repeat my ‘scratched record’ message - nobody was ever wrong when overestimating the lengths the Chines government will go to to control its people.


In China they still talk about “citizens”. In the U.S. we’re more “consumers/human resources” to TPTB. In either society, those who aren’t multi-millionaires or their trusted minions all eventually end up in the category that the creeps on Succession called “NRPI” (AKA the 1980s LAPD’s “NHI”).


so… we shall presume all or most opt-out is actually on their card

A labour drone by any other name shall as productive be.

Thinking about it more, I am convinced what is going on with the Uighers has a dual purpose

  • to bring them to heel and make them all good Chinese ‘citizens’ by whatever oppression is needed
  • as a test bed for the rest of China

The underlying fear driving the Hong Kong protests is real and tangible and near.


‘I can’t’ with this increasingly dystopian timeline…


Agree 100%. Applies not just to PRC.


Don’t know about your state, but here in my locale it’s not even sold. You want a diver’s license or other official state ID? Well, guess what? Ya know when you get your photo taken for the license? Yep, that’s exactly also the moment that your facial map is drawn up by some algorithm and passed on to a federal Db.


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…starting in December, Chinese citizens who want to snag a new phone number or sign up for internet service will have no choice but to allow their faces to get scanned.

Ya’ll don’t go thinkin’, even for a minute, this won’t become the norm here in the “democratized west”. In fact, you’ll be lucky to know whether or not your facial map is in an official Db somewhere. Nay, you’re lucky if you know now.

Not to mention passport photos.

Dystopian timelines have people writing horror stories that are our reality.

The world is a nearly unfathomable shitpile right now and it’s only getting worse

#1 thing- stuff like this where technology is evolving down the only road it has left since Wikipedia Netflix and anything useful has already been done- down the shittiest and most authoritarian road possible


That presupposes the photo actually looks like you! We have driver’s licences here in the UK with a photo on, no bar or QR codes though, and they need to be updated every ten years. For my most recent update I had the photo taken by the counter staff in the Post Office, and it could be pretty much any Average White Guy with a beard, it would be pretty useless for any kind of surveillance system.

Everybody eventually a slave.

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Here in the US, we still submit our passport photos by stapling a printed 5cm-square photo to the registration form. The resolution of a typical print at that size is crap. I doubt it’s much use for facial recognition systems.

Of course when you actually use said passport to cross a border, the government has a much better opportunity to capture a face scan or other biometrics.

I am actually less bothered by the government having my biometrics than by private megacorps having them. At least the government is nominally accountable to the people.

But yeah… US government, PRC, and the UK each has had an opportunity to scan my face and fingerprints and enter them into their respective databases. Unfortunately that’s now a cost of international travel.

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Don’t worry, we won’t be left out:

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Theoretically, the biometric data could be passed through a one way hash. So when anybody else goes to the bank and asks for the facial recognition database, it’s a load of seemingly random gibberish.

I’m sorry, we can’t tell you what Mr X looks like, until he logs in.

Unfortunately, a biometric, once compromised, is irrevocably compromised.

Your retina scan has expired. Please reauthenticate using a different set of eyes.

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I’m old enough that my UK driver’s licence is that giant piece of pink paper with no photograph on it at all. Still perfectly valid.