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Israel sees drop in registration for biometric ID cards and passports


The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics has released new data that shows a significant decline in the number of Israelis who have chosen to be issued biometric ID cards, according to a report by Israeli newspaper Calcalist.

In the first six months of 2014 only a third of the ID cards and passports issued by the Ministry of Interior included biometric data. This is a significantly lower rate of adoption than the first six months of 2013, when nearly half of the total number of certificates issued included biometric data. In fact, 10,000 biometric certificates were issued in June alone.

Israel is currently in the midst of a two-year biometrics registration pilot phase in which citizens are given the choice between applying for regular ID cards and passports, or biometric versions of the two credentials.

The biometric data that is submitted for the new smart-ID and passports comprises of digitally scanned fingerprints and facial images, which are then encrypted and stored in a separate database.

According to the CBS report, 29.4% declined to join the biometric database because they would either need to visit the population registry offices once again to pick up the certificate, or they needed the certificate right away and could not wait for the smart version.

Additionally, 26.5% said they did not see the benefit of a smart certificate, 24.9% said they did not trust the database, and 19.1% said they had no desire to participate in the pilot phase.

The biometric database project has been met with a considerable backlash throughout the country, including the privacy group Digital Rights Movement warning that “the pilot program represents a dangerous experiment. The public needs to know that anyone who volunteers a fingerprint for the biometric database is placing his privacy at great risk and is joining a move that might compromise national security.”`

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