Beijing China wants people who buy new cell phone numbers to register their personal details, joining many European and Asian countries in curbing the anonymous use of mobile technology.
Most countries that have such rules say they prevent the use of unregistered phones in terror attacks or drug crimes. In China, authorities say they have their sights on rampant junk messages — but some believe the government will use the new tool for monitoring its citizens.
The regulation was “the latest campaign by the government to curb the global scourge of spam, pornographic messages and fraud on cellular phones,” the China Daily newspaper reported. The rules that started Wednesday apply to everyone, including foreigners on short visits.
But human rights advocates say China might be looking for a way to track people who spontaneously join protests. Users could previously buy low-cost mobile phone SIM cards anonymously with cash at convenience stores and newspaper stands and use them right away.