Counter-Terrorism: Fake Fingerprints For Sale


January 11, 2009: Japan has admitted that its new biometric immigration control system has been breached. The first known incident occurred eight months ago, when a South Korean women, who had been deported in 2007 for overstaying her visa, slipped back in. She has been barred from returning for five years. She successfully got past the fingerprint system by purchasing a forged passport in South Korea, and getting with it a clear tape to put over her finger. The tape contained a fingerprint of someone who was not in the Japanese database. The tape worked, just as it has been shown working on TV shows and movies for years. The woman was later picked up inside Japan, and police figured out how she had evaded the emigration controls.

While Japan has halted 846 unwelcome foreigners using the fingerprint system, they are unsure of how many others made it through illegally, using the tape technique. While the biometric system is mainly for keeping out common criminals or those who are, for whatever reason, not welcome, it is also used to keep terrorists out. This won't be the case as long as passport forgers can also get away with the "fingerprint on a tape" trick. Some biometric systems are designed, in theory, to detect the use of tape. No word yet on whether those systems have been deceived as well.

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