Proof of life

Consider the credit card swiper.

When we purchase something, we have no qualms about the cashier swiping our card through a machine, which checks if it is valid and we have credit. Where is a system like this for driver’s licenses, passports and other photo IDs?

If that doesn’t seem necessary, consider the fact that 14 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 could’ve been stopped if the validity of their identification had been checked. They used fake identities, stole passports, illegally obtained driver’s licenses and used false Social Security numbers.

Security at the airports didn’t know any of this, though, because the only thing used to determine if their IDs were valid was the judgment of airport and airline employees.

According to David Akers, his company, EagleCheck Ltd., could have stopped these terrorists, and possibly the Sept. 11 tragedy.

“The government is focused on what is getting on planes,” says Akers, president. “We’re focusing on who.”

But it was two years before Sept. 11 — in 1999 — when Akers and co-founder Jason Korosec launched Shaker Heights-based EagleCheck. CEO Korosec spent more than a decade in the credit card industry. One day, he realized that the same type of technology used in his industry was applicable to checking photo IDs; the infrastructure just wasn’t in place.

The EagleCheck network would link more than 70 local, state and federal identification and criminal databases. The system is unique in that it would not require the creation of a centralized database, which would be much more expensive and time-consuming for the organizations involved.

The ID, once scanned, would be run through the government databases individually to determine if the person on the ID does indeed exist, if the ID is valid and if the person with the ID should be detained. The process, depending on the type of ID, would take about five seconds.

Akers estimates that implementing the system in airports nationwide would cost $200 million — a small price considering that next year’s budget for the Homeland Security Department alone will be $28.5 billion.

EagleCheck is new, with only a handful of employees and less than $1 million in revenue, so a project of this magnitude is going to require some help.

“If you’re going to do something in the government space, they don’t hire EagleCheck to do it,” Akers says. “They hire an IBM or a Northrop Grumman. We’re going through due diligence with strategic partners who are big, established players in technology and the government arena.” How to reach: EagleCheck (216) 752-5931