Vietnam to scan citizens’ retinas for new ID cards

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has instructed the country’s Ministry of Public Security to introduce the collection of biometric data such as retinal scans, voice and DNA samples. This is done in accordance with the amendments to the Law on the Identification of Citizens, The Register reports.

A scan of a citizen’s retina should replace a fingerprint. The government explains this by saying that the iris, unlike a fingerprint, does not change over time and is a more reliable way to identify and verify a person.

Identity cards are issued to all citizens who have reached the age of 14 in Vietnam. Persons between the ages of 6 and 14 can obtain such an identity card upon request.

The law allows for the registration of blood type among the DNA-related information that will be contained in the national database, which will be made available to various agencies to perform their functions and tasks.

The Ministry will work with other authorities to integrate the identification system into the national database.

“Biometric information on DNA and voice is collected when voluntarily provided by the people or the agency conducting criminal proceedings or the agency managing the person to whom administrative measures are applied in the process of settling the case according to their functions and duties whether to solicit assessment or collect biometric information on DNA, people’s voices are shared with identity management agencies for updating and adjusting to the identity database,” says the law on information collection.

Future identity cards in Vietnam will serve as health insurance cards, social security books, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, and marriage certificates, as defined in the amendment.

As of 2022, Vietnam had about 70 million adult citizens registered, making the collection and storage of such data a challenge.