WeChat set to become China’s official electronic ID | Security Affairs

Officials in the Nansha District of Guangzhou, China plan to allow citizens to use the WeChat social networking application as a form of official identification for access government and private sector services, Security Affairs reports. 

The folks over at Security Affairs picked up on a report from Xinhua about a program launched by the Beijing government to use WeChat, the mobile messaging app, as a form of official identification.

A WeChat ID pilot program was launched in Guangzhou’s Nansha District that will allow citizens of the district to be able to identify themselves through the social network, Security Affairs reports, citing Xinhua. According to the report, over 30,000 people have applied for ID cards in the 24 hours following the launch of the project.

WeChat
A pilot program in China will allow people to use WeChat the mobile texting application as an official form of identification. (Image courtesy of WeChat.)

The WeChat ID could be used to authenticate citizens to online and offline government services, it will also give them access to many other online services such as hotel registration and ticketing. Banks and government departments in China have signaled support for the project, which was developed by WeChat’s parent company Tencent and the Ministry of Public Security. Facial recognition will be used to verify applicants prior to having a virtual ID cards issued.

China is in the vanguard of countries embracing mobile devices and a myriad of online and real world surveillance measures for social control. The country has severely restricted access to non-sanctioned news and information sources including western publications, social networks like Facebook and Twitter and even academic publications.
The country has also cracked down on the use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) software by citizens, which can provide a means of circumventing government censors and accessing prohibited content. Millions of government controlled surveillance cameras also keep a close watch on the movement of citizens. In Xinjiang, an autonomous region of China that is the home of the Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, a pervasive government surveillance apparatus is used to monitor the real world and online activities of individuals.

You can read the full post, “WeChat is set to become China’s official electronic ID system” over at Security Affairs.

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