Iran Begins Integrating Facial Recognition for Better Border Protection - Identity Review - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank

Iran’s Kish Island is a free trade zone that frequently has issues with unauthorized entry from potential criminals. Recently, officials discovered more than 50 kilograms of narcotics and other prohibited items: “The young forces of Shahid Seyed Noorkhoda Mousavi’s outpost, using the equipment at their disposal, especially X-Ray, vehicles and passengers, while identifying and colliding with the violators, discovered more than 50 kilograms of narcotics and some prohibited items,” said Iran military officer, Lt. Sasan Darvishi. This officer is among the group within the Iranian government pushing for the use of facial recognition to expedite catching illegal activity such as this.

The Kish checkpoint annually has more 37,000 passengers and 5,000 vehicles passing through. Darvishi believes implementing facial recognition could significantly enhance monitoring capacities, prevent unauthorized entry and identify potential criminals trying to enter the island. Furthermore, he adds that installing facial recognition cameras would help tighten security and ensure a family-friendly experience on the island, which has been dealing with violent crimes and drug trafficking.

This request from the lieutenant is well-timed in light of the cooperation agreement signed by UID and Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces.

The Cooperation Agreement

The agreement will allow law enforcement in Iran access to the UID liveness detection and authentication platform. In general, this transition will aid Iran with its police smartening efforts.

The signing of the agreement was a part of an exchange event sponsored by the Presidential Innovation and Prosperity Fund. The contract itself was signed by the CEO of UID, Nima Shaspour, and the head of the Information Technology and Telecommunications Department of Iran.

The platform’s initial signup process has two steps: A user first obtains a national activation code and then has to take a 5-to-15-second selfie video. Then, the video is run through UID’s algorithm, which promises accuracy rates higher than 95%. Once the liveness has been established, the selfie video is compared to the original ID image registered with the government.

The app ensures security by encrypting all of the information with NIST’s AES 256bit algorithm.

The Implications for the Future

Iran is one of many countries integrating facial recognition into its law enforcement system. South Korea, Australia and many others have already done the same. Despite the improvements in security and efficiency, the ethical implications of this widespread use is not being overlooked. With lower accuracy rates for people of color and serious potential for privacy invasion, facial recognition technology will be monitored closely by many stakeholders in tech and policy.


Sarah Raza is a Tech Innovation Fellow with a background in computer science from Stanford. She is passionate about exploring the implications of increased usage of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Contact Sarah Raza at

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