Singapore Introduces Biometric Data Collection at Ports Of Entry From June 2016

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The Singapore Parliament has passed legislation that could see immigration lines at Changi Airport increasing as Singapore will begin to collect fingerprints from arriving and departing passengers.

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Singapore Changi is well known for it’s efficiency and speedy processes but adding an additional layer of collecting a fingerprint will undoubtedly effect the movement of the lines.

Comparing the current process at Singapore Changi to airports where fingerprints and pictures are taken (such as Malaysia, Japan) I feel that it adds about 50-60% extra time to the whole procedure based on the extra effort and passengers who make mistakes such as not placing the fingers correctly etc.

The Straits Times (access here) reported today about the legislature that has been passed.

All travellers coming into Singapore by land, air or sea from June will have their fingerprints taken, said Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority will be capturing the fingerprints of anyone who enters Singapore at its air, land and sea checkpoints, as part of plans to beef up border security, Mr Lee told Parliament on Wednesday (Jan 27).

The fingerprint scans will allow the immigration authorities to “verify the traveller’s identity before he is allowed entry into Singapore and will facilitate automated self-clearance during his departure”, said Mr Lee.

Self clearance facilities are a good way to circumvent the masses who have not much of a clue and slow down everybody else.

The additional biometric screening across Singapore’s checkpoints comes in the wake of heightened terror threat to ensure that Singapore does not fall prey to terrorist attacks.

I think all or most of these immigration measures are fine to scan for fugitives and known offenders but you won’t catch a well organized terrorist prior to an offense because his biometrics are collected. These people who get send to do the job are usually ‘clean’ as far as their record is concerned.

Conclusion

After all the terror incidents of the last year it’s definitely reasonable to add extra layers of protection. This measure is good for Singapore as it improves the control mechanisms of who is entering/exiting. An exit immigration is already a good thing, keep in mind that the U.S. and Canada do not have such an exit procedure. You just board and leave after which the airline will report you as departed to the authorities. At least theoretically. When I pull up my arrival/departure record on the website for U.S. Customs and Border Protection the data is completely inaccurate with many departures missing.

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