China’s Draconian Verification Process – Social Credit True Danger

  • In 2004, every internet user had to enter an ID card number and a full name.
  • Facial recognition software is becoming the main verification method online in China.
  • It is possible that the next step for Chinese citizens will be the implantation of a chip into each individual.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that from December 2019, it will use facial recognition to control over 800 million mobile internet users. According to China’s laws, a person using any online service needs to be identified. There is no such thing as anonymity in China.

The chronology of the evolution of the Chinese totalitarian laws:

In 2004, every internet user had to enter an ID card number and a full name. China’s ID cards have 18 numbers.

China’s Resident Card.
  • 6 numbers = regional code
  • 8 numbers = date of birth
  • 3 numbers = gender
  • 1 number = random

In 2019, due to having a shortage of numbers the ID started having 19 numbers.

Since 2014, platforms such as WeChat started doing verifications via bank card numbers and phone numbers. WeChat is a Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app developed by Tencent. It was first released in 2011, and became one of the world’s largest standalone mobile apps in 2018, with over 1 billion monthly active users.

Soon, verification was required using small amounts being charged to the bank card. A similar method is used by US PayPal to verify bank accounts of clients.

However, facial recognition software is becoming the main verification method online in China. The term “biometrics” is derived from the Greek words “bio” (life) and “metrics” (to measure). The first semi-automatic face recognition system was developed by Woodrow W. Bledsoe under contract to the US Government. Bledsoe was an American mathematician, computer scientist, and prominent educator. He is one of the founders of artificial intelligence, making early contributions in pattern recognition and automated theorem proving.

Multiple US Government agencies sponsored the Face Recognition Vendor Test (FRVT) in 2000 for the first time. FRVT 2000 consisted of two components: the Recognition Performance Test and the Product Usability Test. The Recognition Performance Test was a technology evaluation. The goal of the Recognition Performance Test was to compare competing techniques for performing facial recognition. All systems were tested on a standardized database. The standard database ensured all systems were evaluated using the same images, which allowed for comparison of the core face recognition technology. The product usability test examined system properties for performing access control.

The first depiction of a biometric scan model appeared in the sci-fi series Star Trek in 1996.

Almost, all major apps in China use the method. There are a few steps: verification of the ID provided, full name, the user scans their face, then reads out loud the numbers appearing on the screen. The service provides a range between 1-100 percentage of the authenticity of information provided. A majority of manuals recommend over 80% to deem the authentication process successful.

China is also transitioning to using facial recognition technology at the airport and no longer requiring passports or any other IDs to board a plane.

The facial recognition is also used in government buildings, schools and kindergartens, where parents picking up children get recognized via facial recognition scanner.

Alipay, the Chinese equivalent of the Apple Pay, started to have terminals using facial recognition technology for customers to pay for purchases. Alipay is a third-party mobile and online payment platform, established in Hangzhou, China in February 2004 by Alibaba Group and its founder Jack Ma. In 2015, Alipay moved its headquarters to Pudong, Shanghai, although its parent company Ant Financial remains Hangzhou-based.

China has started using a facial recognition system on the roads, to catch pedestrians who break the law, The information is publicly posted online for shaming purposes. In China, every citizen is accounted for and they have every single individual’s information.

China’s social credit score impacts people. A pedestrian crossing a street on a red light could face a temporary ban from using public transportation.

The scary part? The system is open source information to anyone who knows the person’s name and the new software even shows you local individuals with poor social credit in your neighborhood. This can make a neighbor a social outcast through public shaming and could create unlivable conditions. Children also can be denied entrance to certain schools due to their parents’ poor social credit score.

It is possible that the next step for Chinese citizens will be the implantation of a chip into each individual to be tracked 24/7 without ever having any freedom of anonymity.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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