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Singapore is Going to Start Tracking Their Citizens With Eye Scans in 2017

Singapore is bringing to life a sci-fi security staple as part of the country’s citizen registry system beginning in 2017.

Starting January 1, all permanent Singapore residents will be required to have their irides scanned so they can be used as an identifier for individuals, ZDNet reported.  According to a statement released by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday, the move was an effort to reportedly improve the “effectiveness and efficiency” of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) operations. 

The country’s National Registration Act (NRA), enacted in 1965, was amended to introduce the update which facilitates the registration of citizens and permanent residents in Singapore. The amendment is set to cover the national identity cards and other similarly-related functions.

Selected SingPost workers would be tasked to facilitate iris image collection at designated SingPost outlets. Iris scans would also be collected during citizens’ re-registration of identity cards or passport application and renewals. The ministry explained that once the scans have been collected, they will be used as an identifier similar to how photographs and fingerprints are used.

The move is seen to not only make registry transactions faster and more convenient but also to improve security in the country.

The senior minister of state for home affairs Desmond Lee recently expressed that such technology has been proven effective with both Germany and the Netherlands reportedly using it since the early 2000s.

“The collection and verification of iris images are similar to taking a photograph. It is convenient, contactless and non-intrusive and can be completed in seconds,” he was quoted as saying.

Lee also stated that there have been cases of travelers facing difficulty at immigration checkpoints due to poor fingerprint quality.

“The use of iris scan technology can help reduce such problems by providing an additional avenue for persons to verify their identity,” he said.

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