Israel’s biometric database pilot begins today

Israel’s controversial biometric database pilot project starts today, though so far, reception hasn’t been incredibly warm.

As we’ve reported in BiometricUpdate.com, the initiation of this pilot project has been a long process in Israel. Parliament first started talking about the database project in 2009 and a trial was set to begin in January, though there were a number of issues which saw this launch date pushed until today.

The Israel High Court of Justice held a hearing earlier this year on a petition seeking the annulment of a law that would establish a governmental biometric database. In the hearing, Justices voiced harsh criticism of the government’s preparation for the pilot program, suggesting the creation of a centralized database is an “extreme” and “harmful” measure and not a necessity to implementing smart ID cards.

Just last week, leaked documents which showed emails and correspondence for the database project showed significant security flaws in the system.

Included in the leaked documents is a letter from the acting head of the Israeli Law, Information and Technology Authority, in which she says that she couldn’t be sure the system was ready to withstand security violations, as the Authority was able to breach part of the biometric system’s security.

According to a report in Arutz Sheva, the Interior Minister has responded by saying the breaches described in the leaked documents are not directly connected to personal data.

Now, labor chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich has voiced opposition.

“Biometric ID may have its advantages, but storing the data on a central server makes all this private information about Israeli citizens vulnerable to hackers, and thes best firewall is still penetrable,” Yachimovich said. “The labor party opposes such a proposal, and this is also included in our constitution.”

According to a separate Arutz Sheva report, Michael Eitan, the country’s minister of improvement of government services, has come out against the system, saying the database will not do anything positive for Israel and has suggested that since it isn’t mandatory, citizens shouldn’t participate and become the “government’s guinea pigs.”

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