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Singapore introducing iris scans at land and sea checkpoints for identity verification


Iris recognition technology will be introduced at Singapore’s land and sea checkpoints within the next two years to boost identity verification methods, according to a recent report in Channel NewsAsia.

Just last week Singapore’s Parliament passed amendments to the National Registration Act to strengthen the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

Photos and fingerprints are currently used to identify travellers at Singapore’s checkpoints, but starting next year, the ICA will start collecting iris images from Singaporeans and permanent residents during the IC registration and re-registration process, and during passport applications and pick-ups.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee said the touchless registration process is non-intrusive and will improve border security and reduce queues at Singapore’s checkpoints.

Some Members of Parliament (MPs) expressed concerns for privacy and how this data will be protected from theft and abuse but Lee sought to assure members of the House that security measures were already in place. “First, ICA has strict user access controls,” he said. “Only authorized ICA officers can access the database as part of their work. Regular audits are conducted, and those caught using the data will be punished.

“Second, sensitive data like fingerprints and eye images are encrypted, before storage in a secure database. Third, ICA servers are protected by physical and software measures in line with international security standards,” he stated.

Lee added that the National Registration Act tightly restricts when these personal identifiers can be shared.

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