ID Theft | DocFilm | DW | 11.06.2019
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ID Theft

Your fingerprints, your iris and your voice are unique features in biometric identification. IT companies promise privacy and security. But cyber-crooks have already managed to break into biometric data banks -- with potentially dangerous results.

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More and more people are now expected to provide biometric data as a means of identification -- whether it's transactions on the web, or border-control checks. The IT industry has earned millions by promising full security for this data. Governments claim that biometrics have helped to make passports and other ID documents more secure. But crooks have been targeting biometric data banks for some time now. They break into government- or private-sector systems, and gain access to sensitive information. New evidence indicates that criminals and terrorists have already been able to use this data for their own purposes. Travel documents that include biometric data are now being offered on the Dark Web. It can be a nightmare for private citizens who fall victim to this kind of data theft. How can they prove that they weren't involved in criminal activity? If your fingerprints or facial features are stolen or copied, there's not much that you can do -- and it's often extremely difficult to reverse the damage. Is it actually possible to fully secure biometric data? If not, who bears the responsibility for these problems? Our report shows how government- and private-sector budget cuts have made the situation worse. We talk to officials about that, and also interview victims of biometric identity theft. The good news is that there are measures that people can take to protect themselves.