Chinese regulations on the collection of biometric data during user registrations came into force, alongside other rules authorities claim will tackle fraud and prevent illegal SIM card resale.

Under the law, announced by the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in September, the country’s three operators must scan the faces of users during the registration process.

From the public version of notice it is unclear if existing customers of China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom will eventually also need to provide biometric verification data. Between the country’s operators, they had 1.6 billion mobile subscribers at the end of Q3, GSMA Intelligence estimated.

In its notice, the MIIT said the rules would “strengthen the management of real name registration of telephone users to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of citizens in cyberspace” and “lay a solid foundation for the construction of a network integrity system”.

Operators were given until 1 December to implement “portrait comparison” technology using AI or similar innovations to verify users.

Under other rules laid out as part of the initiative, operators must amend their terms of service to clarify the illegality of reselling SIMs. Companies are also required to carry out a publicity campaign to address this issue.