Beijing residents will soon need ID to register cellphone numbers

Summary:Authorities of Chinese capital say real-name system part of a draft regulation will protect public interests by clamping down on illegal activities through cellphones such as fraud and spreading of rumors.

Residents of Beijing will soon need to show proof of identification when they register a new cellphone number or switch from an old number to a new one.

Authorities said on Wednesday this real-name system is part of a draft regulation which is still under discussion, and follows similar moves by microblogging Web sites who get users to log their personal details, China Daily reported.

According to Tong Liqiang, deputy director of the Beijing Internet Information Office, the policy will better protect people's interests because illegal usage of cellphones such as fraud and spreading rumors will be effectively deterred. As Beijing is the capital, they should set a good example for the office, he added.

"The real-name system is a trend involved in the fast development of the Internet. It's a foundation for online management and will be helpful in promoting credibility in our country," he said.

The Beijing Public Security Bureau, the city's communication administration and the Commision of Economy and Information Technology are also involved in drawing up the policy. Tong said the regulation's publication date has not been set because many details needed to be ironed out.

Chinese telcos welcome move
Beijing's branches of the country's three telco giants--China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom--welcomed the proposed system.

China Mobile said it had more than 25 million users in Beijing, of which 40 percent presented an ID when purchasing products, while China Telecom said more than 60 percent of its capital clients registered with real names.

Xie Yi, a China Telecom employee, told the news site the telco has put together a team to handle the real-name work, and asked all stores to ensure the identity of every new user was verified.

"We will remind current users to provide real identity certificates, and we will collect their information," he said. "Our employees and agents have an obligation and signed a contract to protect our users' information safety."

China Unicom also said it will invest in a secure database to collect and protect users' information.

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has imposed a real-name system on cellphone numbers since 2010, but it had not been compulsory for users to do so, a separate report on People's Daily Online, noted.

In a similar move, the Indian police had ordered mobile companies and retailers to physically verify buyers' addressses and tighten security measures in December, following reports of SIM cards bought under fake names to carry out terrorist activities.

Topics: Telcos, China, Security

About

Elly grew up on the adrenaline of crime fiction and it spurred her interest in cybercrime, privacy and the terror on the dark side of IT. At ZDNet Asia, she has made it her mission to warn readers of upcoming security threats, while also covering other tech issues.

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