China requires facial recognition to access the Internet
It is one of the most egregious violations of Internet neutrality yet. The Chinese government is taking the final step to completely control its population’s online activity. Starting this week, anyone in China wishing to register a new mobile telephone account will be required to have their faces scanned and matched up to their existing government Digital ID picture.
The Chinese government claims to be ensuring that every citizen uses “Real Name” identities to promote a stronger and healthier Internet. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? Too bad this policy is from a government eager to maintain control of their population and the Internet by any means.
The Internet in China is already isolated from the rest of the world by the Great Firewall. People’s text conversations are regularly monitored and censored for political content. This is in a country with 170 million facial recognition cameras already in place. Ominously, they plan to add another 400 million. Taking this next step seems redundant.
The ultimate intent is the total domination and isolation of the population via technology. The Chinese government is concerned about people using their own language or religion to spread subversive ideas. Conveniently, it sure would be easier to control and isolate a minority population like the Uighur Musilms simply by erasing their faces and cutting them off from the online world.
If you can tie a person’s Internet access to their identity, you can deny them access to the best tool to communicate and share ideas. Theoretically, you could only allow applications in Han Chinese to operate on the Internet. This would ensure the Uighur language is marginalized and eventually dies out. That would be cheaper than building camps to “re-educate” 1 million people.
It is easy to point fingers at draconian policies that limit what people say and do online. It is taking it to the next other level when you control of the ability of your people to connect to the Internet at all. No Internet, no online payments, no communication, no identity. This new policy will give the Chinese governemnt carte-blanche control of all aspects of their citizens’ online lives.
And that is a power no government should have.