Singapore citizens will soon be able to use their faces to gain access to various government services. The country will specifically allow people to use facial recognition to log into their accounts when taking advantage of Singapore’s comprehensive SingPass digital identity program.
The SingPass Face Verification feature was announced back in July, and is part of a broader $1.75 billion USD digital transformation initiative that was launched in 2014. The technology will enable passwordless SingPass logins on personal devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers, and at public kiosks located throughout Singapore.
Over time, SingPass Face Verification could also support the use of facial recognition in other public and private sector applications. The technology was trialed at a bank in July, and could be used to verify the identities of students taking exams.
However, privacy advocates are worried about potential abuses of the system, especially as facial recognition becomes more widespread and gets integrated into more areas of Singaporean life.
“I can think of a lot of problems where the whole of the government will find ways to legally misuse the technology to surveil their citizens,” said Singaporean privacy lawyer Indulekshmi Rajeswari, who is based in Germany. Rajeswari noted that the government is not subject to the same privacy laws as private corporations.
The country’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech) tried to alleviate some of those concerns, and stressed that it would not share any personal information with entities in the private sector. If a citizen uses facial recognition to prove their identity, the subsequent selfie will only be used for that particular transaction, and will then be stored on a secure government server before being deleted after a period of 30 days.
The news reflects the growing interest in biometric authentication technologies in the APAC region. Daon recently opened a new office in Singapore to raise its profile in the Asian market.
Source: NBC News
October 19, 2020 – by Eric Weiss