Feature Article

September 18, 2013

New App for Fake IDs Leverages 'Big Brother' Tech

In 1949, George Orwell wrote the novel “1984” and introduced the world to Big Brother. Since that time, the term Big Brother has spawned controversy within society. It has been the source of inspiration for television creators, who have created such popular television shows as the one brandishing the name of “Big Brother.” But for most people, it is simply a reference to the government, as it refers to the mysterious dictator of Oceania in Orwell’s book. Remember, “Big Brother is watching you!”

In today’s modern technology, people lose some of their privacy to the government with city, state, and federal types of identification cards. Since the 9/11 attacks, the Department of Homeland Security has been using facial recognition software to locate and identify potential terrorist threats.


Image via Shutterstock

Texas, Florida and Nevada lead the way for law enforcement officials to use a database of state-issued driver’s licenses to look for individuals who are involved in a crime. More than half of the states in the United States allow for these types of searches and all may be conducted without a search warrant. 

Another form of facial recognition is often used when nightclubs check the driver’s licenses of the patrons entering the nightclub to make sure they are of legal drinking age. Not everyone selling alcohol (nightclubs, liquor stores, convenience stores, etc.) have qualified staff to be able to detect if the driver’s license is real, whether it has been altered in some way, stolen, or just borrowed from a friend or relative. There has now been an app developed to help alleviate the problems with determining whether a driver’s license is real or fake.

The mobile security company Intellicheck Mobilisa has developed the barZapp app to help determine the validity of a license. This app can be downloaded to any Android or iPhone, and it is as simple as taking a picture of the barcode on the license to determine if the license is legitimate or not. This software can be used on any state, military, or government ID that has a barcode on it. The chief executive officer for Intellicheck Mobilisa, Nelson Ludlow, Ph.D., says, “With barZapp, accepting a card or ID that is false or invalid is a thing of the past. Our app is available to anyone who needs it."

The question now becomes, will people be comfortable allowing a non-law enforcement person having access to this much personal data just to enter a nightclub or to purchase alcohol?




Edited by Alisen Downey


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