In a move that should surprise no one, the Chinese government is requiring all mobile phone users to register with telecom providers. If they don’t, they will face having their service cut off. The action has been made because more than half of the 377 million mobile phone users use pre-paid services, so their phones are activated without requiring any identification.
The reason given for this change, according to the Ministry of Information, is to crackdown on telephone fraud and illegal text messaging. There is also a thriving trade in counterfeit or stolen phones which the government wants to put an end to.
The part that is somewhat more concerning is that the same news report also mentions that the government can use the measures to help control “improper political commentary.” China has struggled with this issue as mobile phones and the internet have rolled through the country.
The new requirements will kick in by the end of the year. There will be a six month grace period before service is cut.