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Extension approved for Israel’s biometric database pilot


A request by Israel’s Interior Minister for a nine-month extension on the country’s biometric database pilot was approved on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, the Minister had requested an extension of the pilot until December 31, 2016 to better learn the issues since he is relatively new in the job.

According to a report in The Jerusalem Post, the initiative is seeing reduced support since a legal adviser to the Israeli Biometric Database Management Authority acknowledging that the potential for database breaches of the country’s experimental biometric identity database couldn’t be ruled out.

The Movement for Digital Rights (MDR) said that the admission validated the group’s claim that the biometric database project could result in an invasion of citizens’ privacy.

A committee spokesman said that the admission that “nobody will sign a security certificate that the database will never leak” was correct, but suggested that the MDR had taken the statement a further than what was said.

In 2009, the Knesset first authorized the pilot to trial biometric identity cards – which are linked to a database containing biometric data such as fingerprints and facial images — in an effort to prevent people from using fake identity cards.

In August 2011, the Biometric Database Authority was established to manage the database, which was followed by the launch of the pilot on June 30, 2013. The first year saw 430,000 people voluntarily register.

Because it was a pilot program and due to serious concerns that abuse of the more personal information used in the cards could lead to grave privacy violations, all registration for the program has been voluntary until now, and its continuation has been an open question.

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