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In the core rulebook, there is a section about checking fake System Identification Numbers (SINs) which details on how the SIN check is handled mechanically (p. 368):

In game terms, the gamemaster should make a Simple Device Rating x 2 Test with a threshold equal to the rating of the fake SIN (use Device Ratings, p. 234, for SIN verification system ratings).

However, I wonder what is actually going on in the game world, both for role-playing it and for planning the run settings as a GM.

The SINs seem to contain a lot of information such as DNA samples and retina scans. In addition, background information on the person is attached to it in some database.

How can I imagine different SIN checking device ratings to operate?

  • A rating one device would probably only check, like, the sex and age, probably entered by the operator themselves.

  • A rating two device might additionally take a retinal scan and check it against the data in the SIN.

  • A rating three device could also take a DNA sample, e.g. from saliva or blood.

  • A rating four device ...?

I’m also thinking through this from a security perspective. If I read the rules correctly, the SIN is also stored on the Commlink (it has to be stored somewhere, I mean, it is likely a 100+ character string, you don’t simply remember that, and I don’t think anyone still believes in paper in 2075. Also, p. 221 “A commlink is combination computer, […], passport, wallet, credit card, […]”). What would stop a decker from simply copying the SIN from a cracked victim commlink and using it (with respect to the rules) like a Rating 1 Fake SIN? (Assuming the victim has roughly matching age and sex)

So to summarize the questions:

  • What do different SIN check levels look like?

  • Is the background information ever checked in an automatic procedure?

  • Is there anything in the checking procedures which protects against a SIN being copied or is it inherently impossible to steal a SIN from another person?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the SIN - as in, the actual number associated with the person - doesn't have to have the person's DNA and other details encoded in it; It just has to be associated with that person's DNA and other details in some kind of database that the authority figure making checks has access to. It can be long, but doesn't need to be hundreds of digits. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Jul 15 '15 at 1:27
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In summary:

  1. Details of SIN checks can be found on pg. 364 of the core rule book

  2. Yes

  3. No, but stealing one isn't a good idea

First, let's look at the SIN Verification Details on pg. 364 of the core rulebook:

Rating 1 - Do you have a SIN?

Rating 2 - Basic redundancy check on the number and vital statistics

Rating 3 - Redundancy check on number and statistics; query for external data attached to SIN

Rating 4 - Verify all vital statistics; external data checked for obvious conflicts; biometric must be present

Rating 5 - Full verification and consistency check; biometrics tested against sample

Rating 6 - All possible verification; multiple biometric samples must match; random supporting data verified externally

Reading the chart above, it appears to me that up to Rating 4 the scan can be considered "automatic". Rating 5 and 6 appear to require input from the runner. Pg. 364 includes:

Biometric data associated with a high-Rating SIN will be from a real person with the same sex and nationality as the purchaser with (if the extra fee is paid) matching organic samples available (blood, skin cells, hair—just don’t ask where they came from).

Essentially, 1–4 take the form of some device that is of unknown size and volume. 5 and 6 likely include some sort of scanner, either retinal, DNA, or all of the above. There is no set form factor, so it's left to our imagination.

The book doesn't mention at all stealing one that I can find, and that makes sense: If you steal someone's commlink, then you likely have their SIN, and can use it when you need (provided you have the technical mojo). But, if you steal a SIN and the person isn't dead, then you'll likely get caught as soon as their SIN history is checked or they recover their SIN from wherever they would do such a thing.

Duplicating a SIN would be an extremely dangerous affair. Remember, a SIN is required for almost every purchase (pg. 363 mentions “Hastily created identities may work if someone just wants to be able to buy a Nuke ’em Burger at the Stuffer Shack”), and chances are a legal SIN will constantly be broadcasted. Suddenly broadcasting the same SIN would immediately rouse suspicion. Essentially, you'd run into the same issue as above.

In most cases these devices would be automatic. I would expect a level 5 or 6 would be found at an extremely exclusive club, the offices of corporate CEO's, or other higher-level places. Level 4 assumes the biometric data is broadcasted along with the SIN (Unrelated to the rating, but “Related information such as biometric data will likely be missing or obviously false if checked (‘Hey, this is the DNA of a chicken ...’).”)

Comment Answers

I see that stealing long-term might not be a good idea, but is there anything against copying it, keeping it secret and then use it for a few seconds while passing an entrance check?

In RAW, not that I've found. I would allow it under most circumstances. It could be a very useful part in breaking into a secure part of a facility, as example. I wouldn't allow it under the more extreme situations that I can't think of.

What kind of roll would you take to determine whether this temporary duplication raises suspicion?

Probably an edge test. I would either allow them to use a point of edge to make it work, or use the difficulty threshold chart to determine what sort of edge test would need to be passed. It should be a hard thing to do, after all. I would give modifiers based on factors like how soon it's been since it was stolen, if anyone was aware it's stolen So, in a situation where a middle manager was walking down the hallway and someone sniffed away the commlink, I would give a +2 or +3 since it's unknown and recent.

Obligatory Disclaimer: Since this isn't RAW it's up to the GM to make the best decision. I've provided my point of view as a GM.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I see that stealing long-term might not be a good idea, but is there anything against copying it, keeping it secret and then use it for a few seconds while passing an entrance check? You mentioned that SINs are broadcasted, what kind of roll would you take to determine whether this temporary duplication raises suspicion? (Also, thanks for the reference to the checks, I somehow missed these) \$\endgroup\$ – Jonas Schäfer Jul 15 '15 at 9:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JonasWielicki I updated the answer with your questions :) \$\endgroup\$ – Codeacula Jul 15 '15 at 14:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JonasWielicki Matrix Perception: Computer + Intuition[Data Processing] You are not hiding so simple hit lets you spot the icon anywhere on the Matrix. \$\endgroup\$ – Korusef Jul 15 '15 at 14:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wouldn't use a Matrix Perception test, personally. There's more factors at play then if the current situation feels of in the Matrix, though it would work, too, with situational modifiers. \$\endgroup\$ – Codeacula Jul 15 '15 at 14:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Korusef: Also, your test is for spotting icons, not so much if the duplication raises suspicion, in which case a Perception test MIGHT apply. \$\endgroup\$ – Codeacula Jul 15 '15 at 18:39
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Adding a bit in as an answer (since Codeacula's answer covers most of it) the in-game checks can vary depending on how you perceive the technological world around people.

With a rating 1 check, you're looking at someone that would just enter in the information into a database check. Maybe this is something where you beam over the SIN's number and the receiving person enters that into a computer. Database goes out to the UCAS database and verifies that this is, indeed, an active SIN. When it comes back, the clerk would smile and hand over the product you were purchasing.

Rating 2 check would be something along the lines of a low-end club check-in or something similar. Assuming you just have the commlink on to be picked up by their network, it would get scanned and then sent to the UCAS database. At this point, the scanner could be smart enough to check your geno-type, height, and weight. And if that checks out, hey...let them on through. A male dwarf is a male dwarf. SIN checks out, no reason to stop the person from having a good time.

Rating 3 would start to get into more sophisticated equipment. Maybe you're trying to purchase something that a normal background check would be needed for (like a gun or something similar). The person would get your SIN beamed over and your criminal records and current licences would get checked. This could be from a sensor-like device or a console with a sensor that the person is using to matrix search your info. The device would have all needed tools to check your meta type, height and weight, and what cybernetics you have that could be picked up on a simple MAD scan. Make sure all of that is legal. Those titanium bones you have might be suspicious, but it says here that you were in a severe car accident five years ago and the insurance company sprang for some serious 'ware after the settlement to help get you back up and running. The clerk would shrug, smile at you, and hand you that new machine pistol you've been wanting to buy.

Rating 4 is where you get into things that you'd see at an airport. Maybe you're next run is to Dubai and you need to get on a plan. Rating 3 SIN and under might not cover it, especially in Dubai. So, you make sure that you get another SIN that's going to let you on the plane. You step up to the terminal and the nice Knight Errant TSA officer. They ask for your information to be beamed over, which you easily do from your commlink. Once that's there, they ask you to step into the tube and keep your hands up while the scanner reads over you. It's a quick pass that takes in a number of things: meta type, retina scan, finger prints, skin tone, height, weight, body structure, and does a MAD scan for your cyber and bio ware. The TSA officer checks their screen as each of these pieces of data are brought up and placed on the left of a screen. The right side of the screen then shows the searches being done. It's milliseconds in speed, but the data is massive that comes back, since it's all biometrics that verify the person with those eyes did, indeed, work for Renraku security at one point.

Rating 5 and 6 get into the realm of corporate and government security. This means that the data needs to be verified by a number of different sources. You might have to give up a full retina scan and tissue sample (simply putting your hand against a scanner) which is then accessed from a secure internal database that houses all of this information and relays it in the fraction of a moment. And all of this is also dependent on human interaction. Some would be sitting on the other end of that scanner, in a locked room, watching you and the way you act as the data comes streaming over. They need to not only make a biometric scan of you, but also a visual one. The scanners visual camera can take pictures of you at every angle and make sure that the bone structure is the same as what's on a sample photo. But this should also be verified by a meat body at the same time. And any warnings should then be scrutinized. With fake IDs this high, any inconsistency would be immediately called foul and the ID invalidated. A warning would make the user of the device need to do a more through check over the individual. Maybe there used to be a beard on the photo, but they shaved it off. Checks need to be made for razor marks and indication of either stubble or the presence of a shadow.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I had thought about doing this, but my answer was already getting kinda long. I wouldn't have done this in such detail though! +1 for the excellent ideas. \$\endgroup\$ – Codeacula Jul 15 '15 at 14:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ The two answers together make for great input. I am designing the access control on the target area for a run, and I think I will go for a Rating 1 SIN check together with an RFID possession test (think of parking lot barriers where you insert your card into a device at the barrier) at the entry points (this cannot be a too heavy or long check because it must perform well during rush hour). \$\endgroup\$ – Jonas Schäfer Jul 15 '15 at 20:41

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