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(Pocket-lint) - China has brought into effect new rules that require people to submit to a face scan verified against their national ID card before they can purchase a new SIM card or sign a new cellular contract. 

The new requirements came into force on 1 December, and are in theory intended to prevent fraud. Of course, it also provides the Chinese government with a handy list of SIM cards matched to the citizens who bought them. 

China's use of facial recognition is also cause for some concern - it's using the technology more and more widely, even as other countries confront concerns about its ethical consequences. 

Reports this year have variously indicated that the tech has been used in Chinese classrooms to monitor for inattentive students, as well as in the streets to check for anti-government demonstrations. The Chinese government is alleged to have used this facial recognition to detect ethnic minorities, tracking and detaining them to be sent to "re-education" camps. 

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According to the government, this new measure is intended to "protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace", but there's an understandable, if necessarily polite and restrained, degree of suspicion doing the rounds on China's Weibo social media network. That network, after all, verifies its users identities before they post, too. 

That said, even this particular area of identity verification isn't completely fresh for Chinese phone users. Many of the country's phone stores have already had facial scanning in place for months, and they were already required to provide official ID to make these purchases. 

Writing by Max Freeman-Mills.