China requires ID for mobile Internet, phone services

Consumers need to present their identity cards to purchase Internet prepaid cards and fixed-line phone services in a new draft regulation, so as to "safeguard the security of network information".
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

China will be extending its real-name registration mandate to prepaid mobile Internet cards and fixed-line phone services, should the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's (MIIT) draft proposal get approved.

The People's Daily reported Friday the MIIT had published a draft proposal asking telecom operators to collect ID information from customers looking to purchase fixed-line phones and services as well as wireless prepaid cards.

"This measure is to protect the legitimate rights of the telecom service subscribers and providers, and to safeguard the security of network information," the ministry said in the proposal.

The draft proposal was released on Thursday by the MIIT and the public can air its opinions about the plans from now until May 15, it stated.

This latest regulation is an extension of the real-name registration system which required consumers to present their ID in order to sign up for a prepaid mobile phone number and SIM card in 2010. An analyst noted then the new rule may reduce new sign-ups in the short term but provide greater clarity of actual subscriber figures in the long run.

However, the People's Daily noted the system did not go as smoothly as planned. Chen Jinqiao, deputy chief engineer at the China Academy of Telecommunication Research, said in the report that of the country's 1.13 billion mobile phone owners, 4 of 10 did not register their ID information.

Chinese consumers can still buy phone numbers without IDs in places such as newspaper stands, cellphone repair shops, and consumer electronic stores, it noted.  


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