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Israel to test biometric ID cards in January 2013


The Knesset in Israel has approved a trial of its new biometric database and issuance of associated smart identity cards, following a successful vote Wednesday.

The directive was approved by a joint committee and the test period is to being in January 2013 and last for a two years. Biometric information in the database will consist of two fingerprints and a face scan. Minors under the age of 16 will not be included in the testing of this initiative.

At first, citizens will be able to voluntarily submit fingerprints and a facial scan to receive their smart ID card, and after the pilot program is over, the country aims to include all citizens into the centralized database, Haaretz reports.

This news comes after years of debate regarding a centralized biometric database in Israel. As reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, 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.

Israel is not the first country to look at implementing a smart ID card system. Many countries around the world have either already started using biometric smart cards, or are looking to do so soon. Recently, South Africa announced its pilot program has been successful and the country is on track to start its smart card system in 2013. Additionally, Dr. Husni Fahmi, who oversees Indonesia’s biometric enrollment program, recently announced the country is spending US$600 million to provide a national identity card to all of its 172 million residents. In fact, BiometricUpdate just identified Indonesia as the most advanced adopter of eID credentials.

A recent BiometricUpdate.com Biometrics Research Note suggests the demand for new technology, including smart cards, will broaden the market for residential and commercial security products in the U.S. over the next five years.

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