Loophole Makes Biometric IDs a Steal
Bio-metric passports are supposed to end identity theft, help fight terrorism and obviate other evils, but all the sophisticated electronic wizardry may be useless … because you can, allegedly, get one with an easily faked French birth certificate says Le Parisien.
In France each year more than 210 000 people face the personal disaster of identity theft, which, says Telelyonmetropole proves almost impossible to redress because France lacks an adequate legal framework to deal with this crime. See this website set up by a victim of ID theft, for more details of a highly destructive criminal activity.
Be vigilant and take care of your private data, is the advice of IT experts – something that is increasingly more difficult when so many life-affecting transactions now take place on an Internet that is susceptible to hackers, phishers and similar obnoxious pond life.
Le Parisien writers Roberto Cristofoli and Matthieu Pelloli report that between 500,000 and 1 million supposedly tamper-proof biometric passports could be false. Biometric passports in themselves are difficult to forge, they write, “but getting one with a fake birth certificate is easy”.
In a shock report, immediately dismissed as ‘infantile’ and firmly rebutted by the Interior Ministry, the reporters allege to have had sight of a 20-page report commissioned by Henri Guaino, a special adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy, which they say is currently “attracting the attention of authorities. And for good reason: it reveals a flaw in the process used for developing the French biometric passport. The problem now boils down to the fact that any citizen can obtain a highly secure identity and travel document based on the (submission) of a less than secure document: a copy of a birth certificate.”
The report, the paper says, was delivered to the Interior Ministry in October by Guillaume Gardillou – who was deputy mayor responsible for civil status and security at Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts -de-Seine) city hall from 2008 to April 2011.
Contacted by the paper, Guillaume Gardillou declined to comment but confirmed that the document “had been commissioned by Henri Guaino.”
What does his report show? Well according to the two reporters, the report suggests that while the biometric passport itself – introduced in June 2009 – is a counterfeiters’ nightmare, the documents needed to acquire it are easily falsified. As a result, they say, “of the 7 million biometric passports currently in circulation, 500,000 (according to some criminologists) 1 million (according to an unofficial police source) could have been obtained under false pretences.”
The newspaper’s “very alarming” figures were however immediately and categorically denied by the Interior Ministry which described them as “completely crazy and light years away from the truth.” The ministry did not “deny that there may have been cases where a passport has been improperly issued,” but it declined to reveal to the two reporters its own statistics on the issue of falsified passports “for reasons of confidentiality.”
Apparently at the urging of the ministry, Guillaume Gardillou, author of the report to government went further and in a statement reported by the paper said : “the idea that a person can create a new identity based on a simple falsified photocopy of a certificate extracted from the registry of births and deaths, is infantile.”
The two writers conclude their expose with this kicker: “Reportedly, a working group has been set up at the Interior Ministry to study the Guillaume Gardillou report. Under consideration are measures to enhance the safety of birth certificates, with some of the sophisticated anti-counterfeiting technology used in banknotes and latest generation cheque books. This solution, estimated to cost some €1.5 million, would be borne by the City Halls that issue supporting documents such as copies of birth certificates.
More generally, the problem of “identity document vulnerability” was up for discussion on December 13 in l’Assemblée Nationale or parliament where a bill on improving the security of such documents was debated.
Story: Ken Pottinger
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- The Downside Of Biometrics: 9 Million Israelis’ Records Hacked (fastcompany.com)
- Biometrics Demystified: What You Need To Know (informationweek.com)
- The double edge sword of using biometrics for data security (inquisitr.com)