Israeli government likely to freeze experimental biometric database in December

The Israeli government said that its experimental biometric database will be deleted if the legislation procedures aren’t completed by June 30, 2017, according to a report by Haaretz.

The biometric database is likely to be frozen in December, based on a Knesset decision on whether to fully implement it or shut it down, according to the lawmaker heading the committee supervising the project.

Knesset member Nissan Slomiansky said the government will make the decision in a few months, adding that he would not prolong the experimental stage of the database.

The Knesset will discuss the issue as early as January, analyzing such factors as data security and whether the database is necessary.

“The prime minister and interior minister are taking their time in submitting an opinion about the database, despite my request to them in letters,” Slomiansky said. “If they don’t submit, we’ll make decisions without them.”

It is unlikely that the biometric database will be deleted since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Arye Dery are planning to advance legislation requiring all Israeli citizens to join the database.

Several politicians involved in the database discussion believe the legislation procedures will continue until after the end of the year, with the interior minister likely to push for an extension of the pilot period.

However, if the database’s pilot is not granted an extension, the possibility of issuing biometric ID cards and passports as of January 1, 2017, will be suspended.

The committee, comprised of members from the constitution, interior and science Knesset panels, met earlier this week to decide on a change in tracking fraudsters attempting to trick the database in order to secure ID cards under false names.

Launched in June 2013, the biometric documents project was originally intended to run for a two-year experimental period. However, the period has twice been granted a nine-month extension, and is due to end next month.

In July, Israeli Interior Minister Arye Dery announced that it will be mandatory for citizens to enroll in the national biometric database starting in 2017.

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