Authorities in the Chinese province of Xinjiang have begun collecting DNA and biometrics from all its residents, Human Rights Watch reported Wednesday.
All residents between 12 and 65 are having DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood types collected.
Called The Population Registration Program, police will be collecting iris scans and fingerprints during home visits or by creating centralized collection points. Medical authorities will collect DNA samples and blood type information during yearly physicals that are then sent to police bureaus “for profiling.”
Participation does not appear to be optional. One man told Human Rights Watch that local committee members “had demanded that they [people in his neighborhood] must participate in the physicals.”
Guidelines direct officials “to ensure that [information from] every household in every village, every person in every household, every item for every person” is collected.
It is also unclear whether locals getting examinations — under the program ‘Physicals for All,’ which ended in October — know their medical data is being collected.
“Xinjiang authorities should rename their physical exams project ‘Privacy Violations for All,’ as informed consent and real choice does not seem to be part of these programs,” Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch, said. “The mandatory data-banking of a whole population’s biodata, including DNA, is a gross violation of international human rights norms, and it’s even more disturbing if it is done surreptitiously, under the guise of a free health care program.”
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