Singapore to introduce iris scans at land and sea checkpoints
11 November 2016 15:09 GMT

Singapore’s parliament has passed amendments to its National Registration Act that mandate the introduction of iris checks at borders before 2018.

The changes to the National Registration Act empower the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to begin the biometric cchecks.

While face and fingerprints are currently used to identify travellers at Singapore's checkpoints, from next year, ICA will start collecting iris images from Singaporeans and Permanent Residents.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee said it will be a contactless and non-intrusive process that boosts border security and eases queues at Singapore's checkpoints.

"A person's appearance can change over time,” said Lee. “A person's fingerprints may also wear out over time as he gets older, or if he does a lot of manual work.”

According to Lee, the ICA has received feedback from travellers who found it difficult to use the automated clearance gates at the checkpoints. “These travellers had to be directed to the manned counters instead and this has been a source of intrigue, and sometimes frustration to them, and also fellow travellers queuing up behind them to use the automated lanes,” he said.

"As scanning of irises is contactless and non-intrusive, the technology could potentially scan irises covertly, as opposed to the scanning of thumbprints which requires active participation of the person being identified,” said MP for West Coast GRC Patrick Tay, reports Channel News Asia. “Once an iris becomes a digital file, that file will need to be adequately protected against an attack. Systems can be hacked, biometric identifiers could be stolen and misused.”

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