The CCP is collecting iris information about all Chinese, including children, and storing it in gigantic databases—why?
by Yu Shi
Iris: the best biometrical data
Iris is the colored circular part of the eye that surrounds the black pupil. Unlike facial information and fingerprints, there is no way you can change your iris—which makes for the most reliable biometrical data, together with DNA, and a great tool for controlling citizens in a police state such as China.
Recently, villagers from many counties administered by Haidong city in the southwestern province of Qinghai told Bitter Winter that the government was collecting the iris scans of all villagers, despite their disagreement.
“All the villagers should come to the police station to have iris scans collected before June. Otherwise, you’ll be held accountable,” said a notice to the villagers from a police office in Haidong city’s Ledu district.
In Minhe county, police officers went door to door to collect all citizens’ iris scans.
“They used a device like a telescope to aim at my eyes,” a villager told us, adding that someone asked the officers about the reason for collection, but they refused to answer. Some officers also claimed that, if anyone refused to get their iris scans collected, it would be difficult for them in the future to buy tickets for traveling and even withdraw money.
During the same period, the officers forcibly collected DNA samples, iris scans, and other biometrics of villagers from many places in the central province of Henan.
In February 2019, China’s Ministry of Public Security had issued a Construction Plan for the Subsystem of the Iris Identity Verification Under the Professional Application System of the Nationwide Criminal Investigation Information. According to this document, the CCP planned to accomplish the construction of provincial iris systems by the end of August 2019. The document also said that, at the end of 2019, all the collected iris information would be recorded in the information resource platforms, to provide an iris verification service for all the different Chinese police forces.
The document particularly insisted that iris scans should be conducted with respect to “key targets in Xinjiang.” In fact, at least since 2017, Chinese authorities in Xinjiang have, under the pretext of health examination, collected DNA samples, iris scans, and other biological information of the Uyghurs aged from 12 to 65.
Meanwhile, the devices for inspecting iris were being updated and installed rapidly. Bitter Winter has obtained an internal document from Henan government showing that in 2019, the installation of iris scan devices was accelerated, and all police officers became able to check a suspect’s iris against the corresponding database in real time through their cellphones.
Children are targeted too
Collection of iris information does not apply to adults only. Recently, parents told Bitter Winter that they received a letter announcing that kids’ iris information will be collected at their schools. The letter claimed that the collection was aimed at preventing children from being trafficked or getting lost.
In fact, the project named Iris Online Platform for Preventing Kids from Being Lost is a nationwide project, launched by the China National Committee for the Wellbeing of the Youth in 2017.
In 2017 when the project kicked off, the People’s Political Consultative published on its website an article, Establish Infants’ Identity Recognition Database As Soon As Possible. The article revealed the real aim of the project, “gradually create a database of all citizens’ identity.” Starting scanning the iris of newborn babies, the article implied, would guarantee that nobody can escape being so identified in the future. In theory, children’s data can be collected only with their guardians’ authorization. In fact, the project is massively implemented with respect to all children.
A national database is being built in co-operation with the most qualified Chinese scientific institutions and universities. In March 2019, Qinghai Province’s Xining Municipal Committee for the Wellbeing of the Youth issued a Notice About Launching an Appealing Operation of “Internet and Kids Protection,” which stated that the iris input work should “expand to all kindergartens and primary schools, and communities and villages, and should achieve a full coverage. No one should be missed by it, and it should develop rapidly.”
By January 2019, Beijing’s Daxing Workstation had collected the iris information of over 1000 children. Meanwhile, China’s Iris Online Platform for Preventing Kids from Being Lost had announced in 2019 that more than 2000 similar workstations would be built before the end of the year across the whole nation. The construction of CCP’s high-tech Orwellian state continues at full speed.