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Macau tests iris recognition at border crossings

Macau tests iris recognition at border crossings

China’s gambling enclave Macau has started its second test phase for iris recognition at border crossings.

After installing 500 iris scanners at six border control checks, the government will allow adult residents to test the biometrics while creating an iris database. The third phase will be rolling out iris scanners citywide and linking it to the Macao resident electronic ID card, replacing physical cards, according to the Macau Daily Times.

The Macau Legislative Assembly, which governs the tourism and gambling hotspot, passed a new immigration control law in August 2021, allowing iris biometrics data collection from people entering and exiting the territory.

Local politicians, however, have also warned that the implementation of the project will not be smooth. Central District Municipal Advisory Committee members have claimed that borders augmented with iris scanners are safer, and they are more accurate than fingerprints.

Widespread use of biometric identifiers would be difficult, considering the high introduction and maintenance costs of infrastructure.

Residents still need to be educated on personal data safety and cybersecurity, says Wu Hang San, committee vice convenor.

Singapore’s border authorities have been using iris scans as part of their Automated Clearance Initiative for passport holders of 51 jurisdictions, including Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The EU also sees a possibility for iris biometrics to play a larger role in its border controls in the future.

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