09:42 GMT +319 July 2019
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    Your ID, Please! Norway Targets Snowballing Passport Bluff

    © AFP 2019 / Ed Jones
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    Recently, fears have been growing in Norway that an increasing number of people entering the country illegally using authentic passports that have either been stolen or belong to someone else, the country's National ID Center published in a report.

    The exact number of impostors remains uncertain due to a large number of unreported cases. However, based on figures from other countries, the National ID Center estimated around 500 people a year were entering the country illegally using this method and voiced concerns that it is an increasing trend.

    One of the reasons behind the increase is that few airports currently have sufficient equipment to read biometric information and compare it with the passport holder, even though a good deal of today's ID documents have biometric data installed. Thus, authorities remain unable to correctly read and verify the information, for example by matching fingerprints.

    Meanwhile, the majority of ID controls take place when a person enters the Schengen area, not at Norway's border, which may pose an extra problem.

    "We know that once you have entered the Schengen area, the control measures are rather lax," senior adviser Mads Jensen Odnes of the National ID center told NRK.

    The present situation has been severely criticized above all by Norway's opposition Socialist Left Party (SV), which attacked the government for neglecting the party's proposal to adopt obligatory biometric identification when crossing the Schengen border, which would facilitate proper registration of asylum seekers in Norway.

    "It has been very surprising how little interest the government has shown for our proposal," Karin Andersen of the Socialist Left Party told NRK.

    Meanwhile, Justice Committee spokesperson Anders B. Werp of the Conservative Party, ensured NRK that the government is well aware of the problem and is taking it seriously, referring to the new national biometric ID cards that the government plans to introduce shortly.

    "The new cards are designed to specifically hamper forgery since they are based on biometric material and strengthen the security of identity. We want these cards are applied on a large scale and we believe that this will eventually impede ID spoofing," Werp said.

    He also ensured the government will keep cooperating with EU member states on strengthening external border controls in the Schengen.

    Tags:
    biometric identification, passports, NRK, Scandinavia, Norway
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