'Biometric law will make identity theft harder'

Effective use of data could have prevented apparent theft of identities, says law's architect Meir Sheetrit.

February 19, 2010 00:46
2 minute read.
'Biometric law will make identity theft harder'

sheetrit to post 224.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi)

Effective use of biometric data could have prevented the apparent theft of Anglo-Israelis’ identities, MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima), the architect of the country’s Biometric ID Law, and a former minister of intelligence services, told The Jerusalem Post Thursday evening.

Sheetrit said the identification documents – identity cards and passports – that would come into use as a result of his law would “be impossible to forge.”

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“People attacked the law because they were afraid that someone could ‘break in’ to the biometric database and steal identities,” said Sheetrit, arguing that it would be harder, not easier, to do that once the law went into effect.

“Someone could steal a biometric identity card, but they simply could not make their fingerprint match the one stored in the government’s databases,” he said.

“Once we have the smart chip in passports and identification cards, we will finally be part of the developments that we are beginning to see throughout the world,” he added. “It will become increasingly difficult to cross international borders with fake identification once more and more countries install fingerprint-reading devices at border crossings.”

Sheetrit said there were an estimated 350,000 people living in Israel who used stolen or forged identities to acquire government services or for other criminal purposes.

“Beyond those run-of-the-mill criminals, there is no doubt that this law will also make it more difficult for terrorists and spies, as well, to steal Israelis’ identities,” Sheetrit claimed.

He did, however, warn that “the period in which the new documents are being issued is the time in which criminals will make an effort to secure false IDs with their own biometric information listed on the chip inside the document.

On Thursday, Interpol Secretary-General Ronald K. Noble said that “it is becoming clear that those who carefully planned and carried out the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh most likely used forged or fake European passports of innocent citizens whose identities were stolen.”

A number of the identities stolen belonged to Israeli citizens, causing alarm among many who hold foreign passports, particularly those from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“The majority of states in the world, including the United Kingdom and other European countries, are going in the direction of biometric identity documents and biometric scans at borders,” said Sheetrit. “And a fingerprint is something that no one, no matter how good a wig or a costume they put on, can fake.”

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