Effectively preventing manipulation

Passports and identity cards Effectively preventing manipulation

In future the photos on identification documents are to be produced in digital form only by private service providers and sent as a file to the relevant authorities or produced directly on the premises of the issuing authorities. This is to prevent the counterfeiting of documents, by means of face morphing for instance.

A woman shows her identity card.

In future the photos for identity cards are to be produced only in digital form.

Photo: picture alliance / dpa

To prevent the manipulation of passport applications and thus illicit border crossings, the German government has adopted a law to step up security in passports, identity cards and documents issued to non-German citizens. 

Preventing use by unauthorised persons

In future photographic studios and photographers will be required to produce passport photos in digital form only, and to send these directly to passport or identity card issuing authorities using secure channels. Alternatively, the photo can be produced on the premises of the authority under the supervision of a staff member. It will no longer be permissible to bring photos when applying for an identification document.

The background to this regulation is the process known as face morphing, which involves combining the photos of two individuals in one photo. It is already possible using freely available software. If the photo on a passport is manipulated in this way, it can be used not only by the actual holder of the document. It can also possibly be used by another person whose features are included in the photo.

Enhancing the work of the police

Another change affects the authority of the police to investigate. Currently German authorities cannot conduct any further investigations if the authorities in another country inform them only of the serial number of an identification document. The new regulations will enable the police, when they are searching for an individual, to request the information stored under that serial number directly from the issuing authority, and thus pursue their investigations there.

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