Keeping IDentities Safe: TSA Agents Woeful against Chinese ID Counterfeiters
Jun 15, 2015, 02:05 ET
WASHINGTON, June 15, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Chinese counterfeiters are undermining a crucial layer in our national security by flooding our borders with fake driver's licenses that can pass undetected by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners at airports. At least seven counterfeit ID vendors based in China are producing and selling cheap, high quality IDs via websites or anonymous internet marketplaces, like Reddit or on TOR networks. Any customer from any location can spend as little as $50 to have an image and the biographical information of his or her choosing printed on a scannable, counterfeit U.S. driver's license of almost any U.S. state which can be used to board domestic flights.
This only adds to the many problems plaguing TSA of late, the federal agency responsible for securing our air travel. A recent report exposed TSA vulnerabilities as undercover federal investigators were able to sneak in banned weapons and fake bombs in 95% of its trials. In addition to screening for weapons, TSA agents are charged with being familiar enough with the varying formats and security features of travelers' driver's licenses from 56 different U.S. states and territories.
"In an effective layered security approach, would-be terrorists would get caught with fake IDs before sneaking weapons through scanners," said Max Bluestein of Keeping IDentities Safe. "However, even minors are showing TSA fake IDs just to see if they get away with it – and they do. TSA, like many federal agencies, relies on the security of driver's licenses to do its job and safely facilitate domestic commercial air travel. However, there is no proactive policy that deals with fake IDs."
The Chinese are producing IDs that even some experts can't identify as fake, which any terrorist can buy and use to board a domestic flight, according to Bluestein. However, he says that there are ways for the agency to defend against the fake ID epidemic, such as requiring satisfactory counterfeit document recognition training for agents and deploying advanced ID scanners at airports. As for combating the Chinese counterfeiting rings themselves, which are well out of the jurisdiction of U.S. law enforcement agencies, Congress may have to act. In 2012, four U.S. Senators citing national security concerns sent a letter the Chinese Ambassador asking the government to take action against the biggest China-based ID counterfeiter at the time, IDChief. Days later, the site was shutdown, but Keeping IDentities Safe research indicates that other counterfeiters have since risen in its place. The organization, which monitors the ID vendors, warns that these counterfeiting rings will likely continue shipping thousands of fake documents to willing buyers unless similar Congressional action takes place.
"Scanners and training are steps, but should be supplemented with a strategy to remove the market for these IDs," said Bluestein. "The level of sophistication of these overseas counterfeiters is increasing at a rate that could eventually eclipse DMV security capabilities, especially with many reluctant state legislatures and tightening budgets. There is an opportunity to get out in front of that trend, but it should be done on multiple fronts and include state and federal proactive strategies."
About Keeping IDentities Safe:
Keeping IDentities Safe is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan, not for profit, crime prevention education public charity, supported by donor contributions from across the United States. Its slogan, "Working to protect the identity of every American", embodies its commitment to higher standards for both government and private entities that issue identity credentials, especially state agencies that issue driver's licenses and ID cards. Keeping IDentities Safe undertakes research projects addressing best practices for DMVs, compliance with federal laws and regulations, identity fraud prevention and related identity management topics. It provides research results and educational programs to the public and to state and federal officials. Keeping IDentities Safe is a member of the Document Security Alliance and of the American National Standards Institute.
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SOURCE Keeping IDentities Safe
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