Friday, April 9, 2010

Dominican alien felon indicted for attempted entry in Puerto Rico

In secondary inspection Franco-Matos fingerprints were queried by CBP Officers to the FBI Criminal Justice Information database, and the comparison resulted in an identical match to an alien previously removed as an aggravated felon by the name of Julio Cesa-Soto.
In contrast to yesterday's post, this one shows the power biometrics can bring to an identity management system.

In modern times, a person's name has been the datum most commonly used to differentiate among individuals. This is evident in our use of language: keeping one's good name; name brand; household name; etc.*

Names recommend themselves in several ways. Names are used universally. Names are (approximately) unique. They can be represented with text, making for efficient transmission and search. Names are durable and their changes, as in the case of marriage or legal name changes, are governed by well-known social conventions.

Names have always been the cornerstone of identity management systems and those with an antisocial bent have always recognized the value of subverting the defenses a society erects in order to function smoothly. Enter the alias. If you wear out a decent name, simply get another and open up shop again.

Mr. Franco-Matos was simply following the well-worn trail blazed by his criminal forebears, only this time it led straight to jail. The newly minted Julio Cesa-Soto caused no harm. What happened?

It appears that US Customs Border Protection recognized a weakness in an identity management system that was otherwise performing quite well. In this case it appears that the weakness derived from a combination of aliasing and document forgery.

It turns out that biometric ID management solutions are a very good way of dealing with the alias problem.

*The concept of "face" would be an interesting digression here.