Israeli security report details attempts to obtain fake biometric ID cards

September 13, 2016 - 

A new Israeli security report submitted to the Knesset has revealed that there have been 999 possible attempts by citizens to obtain fake identity cards or passports by deceiving the biometric database over the last three years, according to a report by Haaretz.

The data, which was collected by the authority that manages the biometric database, shows that 662 samples sent by residents to the population bureaus contained the same fingerprint submitted for both the right and left hands.

The authority said the data could mean that someone would attempt to request another document in the future under a different identity by sending fingerprints from his other hand.

In 337 cases the biometric data submitted by those individuals requesting documents did not match the data of the same applicants who were already stored in the database, which could signal a potential attempt at identity theft.

Since the database was implemented in 2013, the authority declined to issue identifying documents in 1,544 cases due to biometric data irregularities.

Some cases found that requests included the biometric data of one individual who was incredibly similar to another person already in the database. In many of these cases it was discovered that the two were, in fact, identical twins.

Meanwhile, other cases revealed that the applicant’s fingerprint did not register properly or the collection of biometric samples was defective.

The data is part of the biometric database management authority’s semiannual reports that must be submitted to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee by law.

The report does not disclose how these potential cases of fraud were handled, nor does it verify how many of these cases were actual attempted fraud.

To date, 1,022,934 residents have enrolled in the biometric database through June 2016 where they have received biometric identity cards or passports. The first half of 2016 alone saw a total of 167,574 new enrollments.

One of the glaring issues regarding the biometric document system is that applicants must visit the population bureau on two occasions — first, to request it, and a second visit to pick up the documents.

As a result, about 25% of the documents ordered have not yet been picked up by applicants due to the long queues.

The Interior Ministry is working to remedy this by enabling the documents to be sent by courier.

These latest reports are expected to be the basis for an Interior Ministry request to make the controversial database permanent.

The pilot project is set to end in December. Knesset Law Committee chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky said he will not extend the pilot, but will call on a decision as to whether to implement a permanent database and make it mandatory for citizens to submit photos and fingerprints.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.