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Chinese Government to Impose Facial-Recognition for Internet Access Under Social Credit System

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The Chinese government will impose laws demanding citizens to pass a facial recognition test to use the internet.

Coming into effect December 1st, the policy is part of the ongoing attempts to construct a “social credit” system. For those unfamiliar, the social credit system was unveiled in 2014, and gradually began numerous tests via eight major companies (including online shopping, banking, social media, and even dating) ready for its full implementation in 2020.

Much like how a financial credit score can be used to determine if someone can be trusted to pay bank a loan, the social credit score’s objective is to determine someone’s “trustworthiness.” “Good citizens” are rewarded (better terms on bank loans, travel applications approved quicker, etc), while those who act “poorly” are punished (cannot travel by train, losing access to the best schools, etc). Some even fear the US tech giants are unintentionally or otherwise creating a similar system.

Currently, a Chinese citizen requires to show an ID when applying for a landline or internet connection. The facial recognition test will be used to verify the ID belongs to the applicant. We are currently unable to confirm if the ID card already has an individual’s photo on it or not.

The law was issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology late September, claiming it would help improve the nation’s internet security and combat terrorism.

Recent studies (according to the Daily Mail) state that as early as next year, China’s population of 1.4 billion could be monitored by 626 million CCTV monitors. Almost one camera for every two people. In addition, AI is being utilized with the goal of identifying a citizen within three seconds.

Surveillance researcher Paul Bischoff told the Dail Mail China is rapidly adopting CCTV surveillance as a means to monitor the movements of its population at a huge scale. CCTV in China is not just about stopping crime, but also enforcing social norms and behaviors that the government approves of.”

Combining CCTV and verifying who is exactly using the internet (and presumably how), it seems the Chinese government will be able to enact their social credit system in every waking moment of their citizen’s lives. Tencent were also beginning to implement using IDs in order to play video games, in an effort to limit how long young people play video games.

Ryan Pearson

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Taking his first steps onto Route 1 and never stopping, Ryan has had a love of RPGs since a young age. Now he's learning to appreciate a wider pallet of genres and challenges.