In the last ten years, forty million travel documents have been reported lost or stolen. In 2013, almost 10,000 people crossing EU borders were found using false or stolen documents. The numbers of people seeking asylum is staggering and circumstances in the countries from which they flee are often such that they cannot do so legally. Add to this the criminal need for false documents to support false identities when crossing borders with drugs or worse, and the problem is indeed of gigantic proportions.
Knowing how to spot false identity documents isn’t easy. Yet the use of passports and other identity cards to establish and verify a person’s identity is ubiquitous: not only at border crossings but in hotels, at car rental agencies, banks and hospitals.
The Netherlands is the first country to develop a phone app to help. Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk in conjunction with BZK, earlier this year launched Dutch ID for use by the general public, private institutions and of course, government agencies. Several other countries are keen to participate in the development of such ID screening apps, including the U.S., Canada and Singapore.
The easy to use app cues the user on what to look for when checking identity in the form of a passport or government issued ID card. By rotating, tilting and touching the screen it allows the user to recognize the security features and characteristics of – in this case – new Dutch IDs. The user drags a finger across the screen which will vibrate at critical points. Using the phone’s light switch, ultraviolet features can also be viewed. Clearly, that this ID checker assistance is mobile, makes it particularly useful. It’s a checker in your pocket.