Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore to start collecting iris images from January 2017

According to a report on Reach Singapore, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) will collect iris images from Singaporeans and Permanent Residents starting from this month, when they during NRIC registration and re-registration process, and passport application and renewal.

As a necessary precursor, the National Registration Act was amended in November 2016 to enable “the taking and recording of personal identifiers of persons registered or required to be registered under this Act”. The list of personal identifiers in the schedule includes image of a person’s iris (taken using iris scanning technologies). The amendments take effect from January 2017.

The report quoted Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee saying that the collection of iris images would be done in preparation for a roll-out of iris-scanning technology at land, air and sea checkpoints in the next two years.

This is driven by feedback from people who had problems using automated clearance gates at checkpoints because of difficulties in producing definitive fingerprints.

It was highlighted that iris scanning is a non-invasive procedure in contrast with invasive processes such as collection of blood.

As passports, identity cards and long-term passes can be registered at SingPost outlets, selected SingPost employees will be appointed as registration officers to assist NRIC holders in iris scanning.

Photo by Cpl. Spencer M. Murphy

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