Ministry of Home Affairs (MFA) has announced that the amendments to the National Registration Act (NRA), which were passed in Parliament on 10 November 2016, will take effect from 1 January 2017.
The Ministry stated that the National Registration Act (NRA) was enacted in 1965 for the registration of persons in Singapore, for the issue of identity cards and related purposes. The amendments will enable the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of its operations.
With the amendments coming into force, MFA noted that ICA will collect iris images from Singapore Citizens (SCs) and Permanent Residents (PRs) as another identifier, in addition to photographs and fingerprints. This will be done as part of the NRIC registration and re-registration process, as well as part of the passport application and renewal process.
It also said that ICA will also be appointing selected SingPost employees as registration officers. They will assist to enrol iris images from NRIC holders at selected SingPost outlets, as part of NRIC registration or re-registration.
Principal research analyst Anmol Singh of market research firm Gartner told The Straits Times that collecting iris scans will provide an additional level of security, saying that such scans are convenient to collect and identify on the spot.
He also noted that the process is contactless. Therefore, users can avoid infections which may be passed through surface contact.
He said, “(Iris images are) a more stable biometric feature compared with fingerprints, which change more rapidly in the ageing process and may require more frequent re-enrolment.”
Mr Nick Savvides, security advocate at Symantec, said, “Some consumers have difficulty with fingerprint scanners because of shallow prints, finger injuries or other biological reasons.”
However, Mr Aloysius Cheang, executive vice-president of global computing security association Cloud Security Alliance, alerted that iris images may not necessarily provide a “significant improvement in the level of security” from fingerprints as the files could still be hacked.