Not so long ago, it was easy to replace a passport holder’s photograph. In most cases of fraud, the new photo was simply superimposed over the old one and covered with a transparent film. It was also common for fraudsters to obtain the passport of someone with similar characteristics or to submit false documents to obtain a genuine passport. In many countries, passports are obtained on simple presentation of a birth certificate, a document which is still not tightly controlled and therefore easy to falsify.

Today, however, governments around the world are gradually introducing significant reforms and using new solutions to prevent these types of fraud, often involving biometric parameters.

A desire by public authorities to streamline national identification methods

In India, for example, biometrics has been used to combat poverty and corruption. A new Indian program, Aadhaar, has registered 650 million people, or half of the population. The program issues each inhabitant with a 12-digit number which, along with a fingerprint, forms a unique identifier. Identifiers are stored in encrypted form in an immense digital safe, putting them beyond the reach of hackers. If necessary, an individual’s identity is verified using a fingerprint reader. Biometrics have thereby enabled thousands of individuals, often living in conditions of extreme poverty, to have an official existence in a country where, according to the tradition of Common Law, identity cards do not exist. This will allow recipients of benefits, for example, to open an account using their identifier and receive government benefits directly. Many administrative formalities will also be simplified (supervision of medical files, validation of ownership deeds, etc.).

In the UK, meanwhile, the State has reformed the issuing of residence permits with the creation of the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), a mandatory card for non-EU nationals. This encrypted document contains biographical data (name, date and place of birth) as well as biometric data (fingerprints and digital facial image).

Development of more reliable photography, a favorite target for fraudsters

The main challenge in improving the security of identity cards now lies in a key element – the holder’s photograph, since this is the easiest element to falsify. The LASINK™ solution from OT, unique on the market, allows a color photograph to be laser engraved into the body of a 100% polycarbonate card (three layers at three different levels). The photo has a lined micro texture which cannot be imitated, reproduced or even erased. Any fraud is therefore immediately visible to the naked eye. Rather than offering a multitude of features to secure the identity card, which divide inspectors’ attention, the LASINK™ solution therefore provides a simple and very effective means of identification. This makes it a promising solution for public authorities to ensure effective and long-term protection of their citizens’ identities.