Chinese authorities have issued special biometric requirements for aspiring travelers in the Xinjiang region’s Ili prefecture. Regional police have reportedly announced that all residents must provide DNA, fingerprint, and voiceprint biometric data, and must also submit to 3D body scans, in order to apply for travel documents.
The strictures follow measures enacted last year in which police appropriated the passports of Ili residents, indicating the seizures would be permanent with no new passports to be issued. Radio Free Asia reports that the measures are aimed at surveilling, and possibly intimidating, Ili’s Muslim Uyghurs, a group that has faced discrimination from Chinese authorities, who perceive the group as posing a terrorist threat. Uyghurs comprise roughly a quarter of Ili’s population.
While countries around the world, including democracies like the United States, are increasingly adopting biometric screening for travellers, the measures being introduced for Ili are unusually extensive to a high degree. They stand in stark contrast to the biometric ID solutions many government authorities are seeking in places like India and Africa, where biometric identification is seen as a technology that can help to foster civil society.