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Hong Kong government investing US$387m upgrading biometric ID cards

The Hong Kong government plans to invest US$387 million to upgrade citizen ID cards with facial recognition capabilities, according to Future Gov Asia Pacific.

According to the Legislative Council Panel on Security, the new biometric ID cards will contain a chip with increased capacity to store a higher resolution photo on it.

The government will then be able to use facial recognition technology to read and verify the image on the chip.

The increase storage capacity will also allow for other biometric data to be stored on it. A team spearheaded by the government CIO is also researching new data that can be stored on the ID card for the purpose of offering more services.

The chip on the existing card currently holds a fingerprint of the card holder, but the Hong Kong government has concluded this biometric method does not work for all citizens because their fingerprints are either too thin or blurred.

The new cards will enable citizens to transfer their personal data by simply tapping the card on an optical card reader.

The new cards will also offer improved security by encrypting the data, which can only be read by a device when the correct access key is entered.

The Hong Kong government will invest US$374 million to issue the new cards and an additional US$10.9 million from 2019 onwards to maintain them, with the end goal of replacing all existing cards with the new ones between 2018 and 2022.

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