Singapore's Universal Studios deploys facial recognition for entry


SINGAPORE, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Visitors to Universal Studios in Singapore will now have to pass through facial recognition scanners to enter the park, in the city-state's latest foray with a technology that has stoked privacy concerns.

Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), which owns the sprawling area of tourist attractions, hotels and restaurants in which the park sits, said the scheme which started this month would help smooth access for guests.

"Facial recognition provides contactless verification of tickets and ticket holders, enabling our customers to enjoy our park experience in a more efficient and seamless manner," RWS said in an emailed statement.

Usage of facial recognition technology - which allows firms or authorities to match people picked up on cameras with those on databases - has risen globally in recent years, stirring worries about surveillance and how data collected will be used.

Digitally-connected Singapore has embarked on many projects that use the technology, including an ambitious scheme to put cameras on lamp-posts linked to facial recognition software.

Annual and season ticket holders of Singapore's Universal Studios no longer need physical passes, while guests using day passes will still need tickets for entry but can then exit and re-enter just using their facial image.

Facial recognition is an "essential" part of admission and is used for "operational improvement, safety and security", according to RWS, which last month axed staff as the COVID-19 pandemic batters Singapore's tourism industry.

RWS said it had implemented stringent security measures to safeguard guest information such as storing it on encrypted servers. It declined comment on which company was providing the facial recognition technology.

China's Universal Studios theme park due to open in Beijing next year also plans to use facial recognition technology, according to media reports.

(Reporting by John Geddie and Aradhana Aravindan Editing by Ed Davies)

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