Eyes have it

Bio­met­ric recog­ni­tion data­base us­ing iris scans to be tested in fight against child traf­fick­ing.

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHOU LIHUA in Wuhan zhouli­hua@chi­nadaily.com.cn Liang Shuang contributed to this story.

Iris recog­ni­tion might play a role in the bat­tle against child traf­fick­ing in China in the near fu­ture, as a pi­lot bio­met­ric iris recog­ni­tion data­base is to be set up in Cen­tral China’s Wuhan city, cap­i­tal of Hubei prov­ince.

The pro­gram, pro­posed by iris recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pany Eye Smart, will es­tab­lish 100 data col­lec­tion spots in the city. Par­ents can take their chil­dren to the spots to have their iris scanned. If a child who is reg­is­tered on the data­base goes miss­ing and is found, an iris scan will be able to quickly de­ter­mine his or her iden­tity, much faster than DNA iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“New scan­ning tech­nol­ogy does not re­quire the user to stand up close to the ma­chine. A sim­ple glance at the ma­chine, even from some dis­tance, will suf­fice and it can be done in a sec­ond,” said Wang Xiaopeng, founder of Eye Smart.

“The speed of iris recog­ni­tion will greatly ex­pe­dite the process of reg­is­tra­tion and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of a lost child, as well as low­er­ing the cost,” Wang said.

The iris is a thin, cir­cu­lar struc­ture be­hind the cornea of the eye, with the pupil in the cen­ter, the shape of which is fully de­vel­oped and re­mains fixed 18 months af­ter birth. Ac­cord­ing to Wang, re­searchers have iden­ti­fied the iris as the sin­gle most unique bio­met­ric fea­ture of a hu­man vis­i­ble ex­ter­nally, more unique than fin­ger­prints and DNA.

He said a pi­lot pro­gram in­volv­ing iris scans of 1,000 chil­dren has been launched by Eye Smart. Par­ents of the chil­dren, none of who have gone miss­ing, praised the pro­gram.

“It’s re­ally con­ve­nient to input the data,” said one child’s fa­ther, sur­named Duan. “I sin­cerely hope that the tech­nol­ogy can be im­ple­mented na­tion­wide.”

India has ini­ti­ated the Aad­haar Scheme to col­lect bio­met­ric data — in­clud­ing iris scans — from ev­ery cit­i­zen. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, nearly 1 bil­lion peo­ple had reg­is­tered their fin­ger­prints and iris scans by the beginning of this year in that coun­try.

How­ever, the re­ports also noted pri­vacy concerns re­lated to the use of iris scans in India, which is said to also be a con­cern in China.

“Bio­met­ric data, such as DNA or iris scans, are peo­ple’s pri­vate in­for­ma­tion and by law, the po­lice have no right to force­fully col­lect chil­dren’s bio­met­ric data,” said Chen Jian­feng, head of the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity’s Of­fice of Com­bat­ing Against Hu­man Traf­fick­ing.

“There­fore, par­ents must take their chil­dren to reg­is­ter their data vol­un­tar­ily, and I fear that due to concerns over pri­vacy, the cov­er­age rate is un­likely to be suf­fi­cient,” Chen added.

“The sys­tem is based on vol­un­tary par­tic­i­pa­tion, and we en­crypt data be­fore it is stored, so con­fi­den­tial data is safe,” Wang said. “It re­quires the whole of so­ci­ety to bat­tle against hu­man traf­fick­ing, and we hope to con­trib­ute through the use of such tech­nol­ogy.”


Stu­dents ex­pe­ri­ence iris recog­ni­tion de­vel­oped by EyeS­mart at Huazhong Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy in Wuhan, Hubei prov­ince, ear­lier this month.

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