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China Demands Real Names From Mobile Phone Users 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-more-aka dept.
itwbennett writes "Starting this month, mobile carriers in China are requiring people who set up new mobile phone accounts to register with their real names as part of a new government measure to reduce anonymity among the country's 800 million mobile users. And within 3 years, the carriers must also register the real identities of all existing users, said China Telecom spokesman Xu Fei. The new policy comes as China has been pushing users to register with their real names online. In August, online gamers had to begin real-name registration under regulations that are meant to protect minors from Internet addiction and 'unhealthy' content."
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China Demands Real Names From Mobile Phone Users

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  • I predict (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by dangitman (862676)

    The most common name of Chinese children will become Fuk Yu.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      The most common name of Chinese children will become Fuk Yu.

      Richard Gazinya, here. "Dick" to my friends.

      As a high-school freshman, I went by "Ivan Yaganoff". I dated a girl who went by "Phyllis Glass".

      We actually did once get a cafeteria monitor to say "Who's Dick Hertz?" At the time, I thought it was the funniest goddamn thing ever in the Universe. Today, of course, I am much more sophisticated, but at the time we cracked up through the rest of the day's classes and straight through to fourth period th

      • We actually did once get a cafeteria monitor to say "Who's Dick Hertz?" At the time, I thought it was the funniest goddamn thing ever in the Universe. Today, of course, I am much more sophisticated

        I'm sorry, that shit's funny no matter how old you are. And yeah, I'm over 30. Besides, the pranks only get more involved as you get older.

        Sophisticated's overrated.

      • by dangitman (862676)

        Today, of course, I am much more sophisticated,

        You could have fooled me.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          You could have fooled me.

          I have fooled everybody.

          Actually "more sophisticated" just means more farting and burping and funny faces are involved.

    • Guard number one is a senior on Klahn's mountain, and aspires to be a research chemist. Welcome, please, Hung Well! Guard number two is a real skating buff. A warm welcome for Long Wang! Traveling comes naturally to guard number three, as he's a licensed airplane pilot. Welcome, please, Enormous Genitals!
  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @07:05PM (#33443756) Homepage

    I seem to recall AT&T demanding my social security number when I signed up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by fugu (99277)

      Not sure if this is still the case, but you used to be able to buy a prepaid phone with cash.

      • by Fred IV (587429) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @08:33PM (#33444566)

        Yes, this is still the case. You can buy prepaid phones and replenishment cards with cash at a convenience store and then activate or add minutes online without having to provide proof of identity. Paranoid types will do this at an open wi-fi access point to avoid leaving an IP trail. I know TracFone operates this way, but the other carriers may have a similar policy.

        • you can call in (from any phone) and register a cash-bought 'burner' (lol).

          they will ask you for your name. I said 'sorry, I don't want to give that'. and he said (tracphone, btw) 'well, I need SOMETHING to call you by. make up a name'.

          I laughed.

          (no, I didn't start up with 'you can call me ray, or you can call me jay ...'. the guy in india might actually BE 'jay' and not quite get the joke.)

        • by Zarhan (415465)

          How do you add minutes online anonymously - insert cash into the CD drive? At some point you are asked for a credit card number, right?

          • by Fred IV (587429)
            You can buy a replenishment card with cash at a convenience store. The card has a code on it which can either be entered into your phone directly or associated with your account online to add minutes to your balance.
          • You can buy cards with voucher codes at convenience stores for cash, then put the voucher codes in online.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jpapon (1877296)

      I seem to recall AT&T demanding my social security number when I signed up

      That's probably because they run a credit check on you since you're entering into a contract with them and they typically subsidize your phone price.

      I'm not sure, but I believe you can get a prepaid phone without a social or anything like that. And since most phones in China run on the pre-paid model, there's no need to keep track of who people actually are.

    • by Surt (22457) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @07:13PM (#33443852) Homepage Journal

      And you just gave it to them? No, they do not have the right to demand your SSN, and you are under no obligation to provide it to acquire a cellphone. Laws in some states even make this practice illegal, assuming that they would not back down on the demand (if they back down, no problem, they can ask, they are just required to bow to your refusal).

      • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @08:10PM (#33444392) Journal

        Under federal law (or more specifically, the law is tacit on the subject that) ANYONE may ask that you provide a social security number - and use it as an identification number for you - except the government. Now, that comes with some caveats. You are not required to give them your SSN, but in that case they are allowed to deny you their services based on your refusal.

        Your state laws may have other provisions, but normally the alternative is that you must give them enough personal identification to uniquely identify you and your entire financial history...which is really the only reason not to give out your SSN. With the information they have, just about anyone can get your SSN for $10.

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        Conversely, they are under no obligation to sell you a cellphone.
    • by Nadaka (224565)

      Thats funny, its illegal to use a social security number for any purpose other than taxes or social security benefits.

  • Seem to recall having an issue getting a SIM in England, but it's been a while...

    What surprises me is that China wasn't /already/ doing this.

    • Exactly: Chine is now as oppressive as:

      Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Norway and Switzerland

      • by moro_666 (414422)

        i was about to hit the same topic. the same fact surprised me as well when i was visiting japan.

      • It's been proposed in the US legislature, too. It just hasn't been passed and signed into law yet.

  • I wonder if Governments will start to clamp down on anonymous use of public phones, by requiring credit cards or pre paid cards with ID.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      I wonder if Governments will start to clamp down on anonymous use of public phones, by requiring credit cards or pre paid cards with ID.

      I think they will just let public pay phones fade away, they can hardly get much use nowadays when everyone has a mobile anyway, it will be easy enough to say they are uneconomic.

  • So Obi-Wan has a private transaction and sells his phone to Skywalker. Skywalker then calls the service provider and tells him "his" address (i.e. Obi-Wan's for all the provider knows) has changed from 4523782378 First Street to 4361278 7th Avenue (where Skywalker in fact lives). How does the Gesta^H^H^H government know the phone has moved to Skywalker's hands now?

    Anyway, bless the internet and chat. Fat chance trying to enforce traceability with that. Since any fool can set up OpenFire on his own cheap

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rm999 (775449)

      What you are proposing would be breaking the law. Like any law, people will follow it if they think they may be punished for breaking it. It would be up to China to enforce this if they think it is important.

      In the case of India, when someone registers a SIM card he can expect a government official to visit his home and verify his identity shortly after the purchase (India is super paranoid after the Mumbai terrorists used cell phones to coordinate their attacks). I believe officials can visit your register

      • by zill (1690130)

        I believe officials can visit your registered address anytime after that to make sure you haven't sold the card. If India can enforce a law like this, I'm sure China can.

        Obi-Wan: "The phone is still in my possession. I am not the one you are looking for."

        • by Sulphur (1548251)

          Obi-Wan: "The phone is still in my possession. I am not the one you are looking for."

          These are not the Droids you are seeking. Nothing to see here. Move along.

      • by Rexdude (747457)
        They used satellite phones, not cellphones. But yes, terrorism is cited as the main reason for SIM card registration. While registering you're required to show proof of identity- a passport/driving license and proof of residence.
    • by yyxx (1812612)

      You have a government issued ID with a government-issued ID number. Phone companies are required to collect this information and verify it with the government. They also generally require banking information for billing purposes, and make sure that that's consistent with the registered user of the phone as well. Yes, you can try to privately sell a SIM card registered under your name to someone else and manage to get by with prepaid cards. But that's a risky thing to do, because if the phone is used for

      • You have a government issued ID with a government-issued ID number. Phone companies are required to collect this information and verify it with the government. They also generally require banking information for billing purposes, and make sure that that's consistent with the registered user of the phone as well. Yes, you can try to privately sell a SIM card registered under your name to someone else and manage to get by with prepaid cards. But that's a risky thing to do, because if the phone is used for some illicit purpose, the police will come to you. Even if you can prove you didn't do the crime, intending to get around registration requirements itself may cause trouble. There are some ways around this (e.g. roaming SIM cards), but most people are fully registered and tracked.

        As for the Internet, Internet connections are also registered with the government under your name, and your provider is required to keep a record of all your connections, and it's illegal to set up open access points. Of course, it's easier to communicate clandestinely with Internet protocols, including going through foreign proxies, but if you try, that itself is often detectable and suspicious.

        Where Germany wins over a place like Saudi Arabia is that they generally use all this tracking and surveillance only against actual crimes, although it's probably only a matter of time until those protections erode and governments will start using it for political purposes. Some of the people responsible for the laws and technology had plenty of experience from fascist and communist regimes.

        Wow. That is just difficult to imagine, especially for Germany. I'm trying really hard not to Godwin this discussion, but... Doesn't that all sound a bit fascist? The population is numbered, registered, monitored, and tracked?

        • by molecular (311632)

          Wow. That is just difficult to imagine, especially for Germany. I'm trying really hard not to Godwin this discussion, but... Doesn't that all sound a bit fascist? The population is numbered, registered, monitored, and tracked?

          yes, it's fucking sad, and at the same time the government is trying to attack fb, google et al for privacy invasion, somehow making the population feel cared about.

          Well, cared-about we are!

          Think electronic id-cards and passports (rfid with picture and fingerprints etc) that you are supposed to also use for banking and other online activities, like buying stuff and logging into forums.

          Think all number-plates on highways being scanned (system developed initially to toll heavy vehicles) and info on all car mo

      • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @09:02PM (#33444762)

        Where Germany wins over a place like Saudi Arabia

        wait, did you just say that? "hey, at least we're not as bad as the saudis".

  • Unusual? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @07:18PM (#33443900)

    We have had to show photo id for as long as I can remember in Austraila when getting a new phone or sim card.

    There really isn't that much seperating "us" and the "bad" guys these days except we are "us".

    • Re:Unusual? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jpapon (1877296) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @07:26PM (#33443968) Journal
      Well it seems like Australia actually has some of the most draconian laws in the "western" world concerning things like the internet, anonymity, porn, censorship and so on. And yes, I know Australia isn't in the west.
      • Re:Unusual? (Score:4, Informative)

        by MichaelSmith (789609) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @08:04PM (#33444346) Homepage Journal

        Well it seems like Australia actually has some of the most draconian laws in the "western" world concerning things like the internet, anonymity, porn, censorship and so on. And yes, I know Australia isn't in the west.

        We have our moments [theage.com.au]

      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        No way. They may be more 'draconian' (by your definition) than in the US, but they are generally less so than most of the EU. Australia in almost every way (cultural, government, etc.) really is a middle ground between Europe and the US in my experience.

        For instance:

        - Requiring ID to get a prepaid SIM card is standard in Australia, but also in most of Europe. I don't see this as particularly 'scary'. You are signing up for a company's services. They need to know who you are (even prepaid users have an 'acco

    • by SQL Error (16383)

      Doesn't have to be photo id; if you pay for it by credit card that's good enough.

      But I agree that the law is oppressive and needs to be repealed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pmontra (738736)

      We have had to show photo id for as long as I can remember in Austraila when getting a new phone or sim card.

      A photo-id is required for buying SIM cards in Italy but not for phones unless they contain a SIM card, which is not always the case here.

  • Last year, when I visited India, the world's largest democracy, I tried to buy a pre-paid SIM card. They asked me for a photo, proof of address (like my hotel's address) and a photocopy of my passport. It seems it's standard in India since the Mumbai attack.

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

    • blame cell phone bombs on needing real names to get a phone.

    • In Europe(at least Germany) you are also required to show ID in order to buy a sim. I guess as a result of the Madrid attacks, not sure. But anyway, if you REALLY wanted a SIM that wasn't in your name all you would have to do is hang around at night near where drunk people gather. You can be guaranteed that at least one person will drop their phone.
      • by delinear (991444)
        Of course you can't be guaranteed that they won't notice shortly after and get it cancelled, or that someone won't see you picking it up and alert the authorities. If a terrorist plot centred around obtaining cell phones from drunken revellers, I think we could pretty safely ignore them as a credible threat.
    • by bsDaemon (87307) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @07:38PM (#33444116)

      I like how people always feel like they have to cite that India is the world's largest democracy, as if that amounts to a hill of beans. Does doing terribly stupid, ineffective, and seemingly oppressive things magically become OK just because some plurality of the people managed to strategically vote their party into a leading position? I think not. At least the Communist Party in China doesn't have to go through the indignity of lying about their intentions and motivations.

  • In reaction to SCAMS (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Speaking as an expat who has been living in China for almost 5 years, this is being SOLD as a reaction to phone scams. It is a general rule that when you deal with real estate agents, art agents and others, do not give them your phone number or you will be bombarded with spam text messages at least 10-15 times a day. On top of this, there is an almost daily report of some crime ring scamming people for money by sending them text messages, or calling them while impersonating someone/some agency they know and

  • Good! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Local ID10T (790134) <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @07:42PM (#33444158) Homepage

    Now when they try to push the same legislation thru here in the USA all it will take is a quick comparison to COMMUNIST CHINA to get the politicians to vehemently oppose it....

    • by causality (777677)

      Now when they try to push the same legislation thru here in the USA all it will take is a quick comparison to COMMUNIST CHINA to get the politicians to vehemently oppose it....

      Until it's attached as a rider to some bill that otherwise has overwhelming support. Hey, it worked for the Internet Kill Switch and so many other pieces of bad legislation...

      It's not like the elected politicians actually read the bills they vote on anyway. They're far too important for such trivial and mundane tasks. They have people for that!

    • You're too late.

      All US cell companies require ID for a "credit check" that also verifies the ID of whomever is going to pay the bill. They've got your name, SSN, and home address.

      Sure, there's prepaid that can be bought with cash, and I know the research into this was done by Ryan Seacrest, Guilana Ransic and the rest of the E! News team, but it doesn't make it any less true. Buy too many minutes with cash only and don't pay with a credit or debit card at all, and they'll raise prices and tap the phone.

  • Now if only registrars did the same when selling domain names...

  • by Superdarion (1286310) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @08:51PM (#33444692)
    A couple of months ago they tried this in Mexico [slashdot.org]. At first everyone was scared because they said they'd disconnect any line that wasn't registered.

    At the end they didn't because too many people didn't register (in the order of millions) and about a month after the deadline the government simply desisted on the whole idea, calling it a "bad idea" and claiming that it was badly implemented.

    Too bad the Chinese can't count on that happening, though.
    • Some of the German carriers do this as well, while I was visiting I made an account, and gave them my true identity...James Bond. ;-)

  • Never saw this coming.
  • In South Africa there's RICA - the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act - that requires cellphone users to register every SIM card with all their details, including proof of ID and residence, before the end of the year (IIRC) or be cut off.

    The likelihood of reducing crime versus feeding a booming black market for SIMs is left as an exercise for the reader.

    • by mdm42 (244204)
      ...And uptake so far - after something like 18 months of trying to get people to comply - is somewhere in the region of 12% of all cellphone users.

      Watching to see what's going to happen on 1 Jan when the phone co's get told to cut off 85% of their revenue stream...

  • how will he get by this?
    • He'll steal a phone from someone and kill them to prevent them reporting the theft.
    • by delinear (991444)
      Haha - that's exactly what came to mind when I saw that scene in the movie. I can't remember if he was in Paris or London at the time but I just thought, how the hell did he buy a phone and start using it without having to register his payment method and add some credit. As far as I know you've not been able to do that in the UK (and I think most of Europe) for at least most of the last decade. I think in the US there's no restriction, though, so I guess it was the Hollywood reality distortion affect?
  • I bought a SIM card in France and it came with an envelope into which I was to deposit a copy of my identity papers. The instructions claimed that the card would stop working 14 days after activation unless the papers were received.

  • Actually, I'm on the fence about this one. As a frequent visitor of many hobby forums, I've noticed the amount of trolling has increased exponentially over the years. It has progressed very badly for some online communities. If all you visit is Slashdot, be thankful of the civility that occurs here.

    I don't buy into the doom and gloom of government oppression that goes along with real name registration, nor do I buy into "the net needs anonymity". Seriously, look at 4chan, our glaring symbol of internet anon

  • Is this what happens when you "wing" the "wong" number?

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