China Opens Website Charging For ID Verification Service

China’s Public Security Ministry recently launched a website for the public to verify individual identification card information. However, some netizens have expressed their doubts as the service appears commercial, and privacy issues are also a concern.

From Xinhua,

China’s Public Security Ministry on Friday opened a website for citizens to verify individual identity cards.

Any ID card can be verified for a 5 yuan (73 U.S. cents) online payment at the site,, with a few seconds.

The system is intended to facilitate transactions where ID is needed, such as online trading and apartment rentals, where fake IDs are often used.

However, according to Xinwen chenbao (News Morning Post) (in Chinese), because the search results will also include photos and other individual information, netizens fear  that some of their private information may become public, and this service may further become a utility for “human flesh search engines.” The post also presents a controversial claim made by Liu Deliang, the director of the Center for Internet Legal Research at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, who says that information that appears on individual identification cards should not be regarded as private.

Despite privacy issues, some bloggers also doubt the legality of this business service.  Liu Xiaoyuan, a famous Beijing lawyer,  points out in his blog (in Chinese) that the ID verification service is managed  by a commercial company. Although it appears convenient for the public, it is really the public security department’s responsibility to provide such a service for free. How can they appoint some commercial company to make a profit from it? If the government executives transfer their functions to commercial companies, then the state should abolish those executives to save its expenditures.

For more on the “human flesh search engine,” see CDT posts, “Virtual Carnivores,” and

Chinese Fear Online Mobs.”


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