Singapore eyes 2017 commencement of collecting citizen iris scans

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070110-M-8213R-024 U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. A.C. Wilson uses a retina scanner to positively identify a member of the Baghdaddi city council prior to a meeting with local tribal figureheads, sheiks, community leaders and U.S. service members deployed with Regimental Combat Team-7 in Baghdaddi, Iraq, on Jan. 10, 2007. Wilson is attached to the 4th Civil Affairs Group. DoD photo by Gunnery Sgt. Michael Q. Retana, U.S. Marine Corps. (Released)

A new year will mean new biometric security measures in Singapore, where the government will begin collecting iris scans of the country’s citizens and permanent residents for identity cards and related purposes.

The addition of iris scans comes from amendments to Singapore’s National Registration Act, which will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017. The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority will collect iris images as an additional identifier, joining photographs and fingerprints.

Existing residents and citizens will be phased into the new requirements as they file for the national registry, or apply for or renew their passport.

The Singapore immigration authority says the addition of iris scans will “strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of its operations.”

Accordingly, iris scanning stations will be installed at various checkpoints throughout the country, ensuring that the person carrying identification is who they claim to be. Government officials say the new method will be easier for citizens and residents, in addition to enhancing security.

Some governments across the world have embraced iris scans as part of biometric security systems. In India, the national Aadhaar system can include iris scans, which some public institutions have adopted to track attendance and employee promptness.

Private industries are also banking big on iris scans, with smartphone makers like Samsung and Apple showing interest in adopting the technology in future devices, and financial institutions like Visa plotting to use multiple biometric identifiers to eliminate traditional passwords.