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New biometrics scanning system sparks debate on social media

Some raised privacy concerns, others hailed security tool potential

By Faten Omar

KUWAIT: Last week, border points started taking biometric scans of the iris, face and fingerprints of all passengers including citizens, Gulf nationals and expatriates. Under the hashtag #fingerprint_biometrics on social media platforms, opinions of citizens differed between those who support the activation of this process and those who oppose it, fearing future repercussions.
For Mohannad Al-Ahmad, who arrived in Kuwait last week, the process of taking the biometrics was efficient and was collected at great speed, hoping for placing more biometric centers at Kuwait International Fairground in Mishref to facilitate the process for people.
Regarding his experience, Faisal Al-Hussaini tweeted employees of the interior ministry work tirelessly, as within 45 minutes, the biometrics of approximately 80 people were taken, stressing with coordination, organization and speed of completion, his turn came within a quarter of an hour. “The biometric scanning includes Kuwaitis, citizens of GCC countries and expatriates, so why not open centers in all governorates so that there is no overcrowding, as is the case in the two centers,” Dr Mahdi Saud said.
Khadija Al-Fadly said: “For those who ask about biometrics, it is collected once and for arrivals only. It does not affect your travel at all, as it is considered a routine procedure for every comer to the country.” Nasser Al-Azemi expressed his joy at the application of biometric scanning after a long time. “I have seen the application of biometric scanning in Thailand, UK, Singapore, Malaysia and UAE for years. Finally, it is in Kuwait. The biometrics exposed large numbers of dual nationals and forgers of Kuwaiti nationality,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, Abu Abdullah was not comfortable with the idea of the government taking his biometrics. “The feature of face recognition is dangerous to the privacy and individual security of people. Any leak of data poses a danger to everyone. For example, you or your family can be tracked and identified because of the saved data,” he said.
Khalil Khalaf also raised a security question to the interior minister. “Regarding Kuwait and its security secrets, is biometric scanning safe and preserved in the state’s database, or is it saved outside Kuwait in cooperation with foreign companies? Should we be afraid of corruption and data leakage?” he asked.
Earlier, Head of Nuwaiseeb Border Col Yousef Al-Muhaini revealed 36,000 underwent biometric scans in a week, noting procedure is for arrivals only and it is taken once in a lifetime. It aims to detect those wanted by security. He pointed out elderly and disabled people have priority, and it is not required for people under the age of 21.

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