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Digital Rights Movement petitions against Israeli biometric database law


The Digital Rights Movement petitioned against the recently passed Biometric Database Law, declaring to the High Court of Justice that the law violates the privacy and security of citizens, according to a report by The Jerusalem Post.

“From the moment the database went into effect, we all go on to the blacklist of potential suspects,” DRM lawyer Yonatan Klinger said. “The rule in our democracy until now has been very simple: if you did not break a law, you do not go on the suspects’ list… But from this moment… everyone changes into a suspect… and this must be annulled.”

Following years of controversy and amendments being made to the legislation to take into account criticisms, the High Court passed the Biometric Database Law by a 39-to-29 vote in late February.

Despite applauding the lawmakers for making amendments to alleviate some of the privacy and security violations, the DRM ultimately decided to file the petition, stating that the database was still unconstitutional and dangerous. The NGO recommended that the biometric smart cards continue without a database.

Up until the law was passed, Israelis could only obtain a smart ID card when they submitted their facial recognition and fingerprint biometrics data to the national biometric database.

The new amendments ensure that those individuals who apply for the smart ID cards after June 1 can obtain one without having to enter their fingerprints into the database.

There is also an option to delete fingerprint data for any individuals who previously gave their permission to access the biometrics data.

In addition, fingerprints for individuals under the age of 16 will no longer be stored in the database; the police must be given approval by the Knesset regarding the regulations on the issue before using the database for law enforcement purposes; and court approval will be required before fingerprints in the database can be used for law enforcement purposes.

The government’s “cyber chief” will be responsible for reviewing the database every 18 months, instead of the previous two-year assessment, to determine whether an alternative to fingerprint identification has been developed.

Those citizens who object to submitting their biometrics to the database will still have their fingerprints and facial-recognition picture captured, but the data would only be connected to their smartcard. As a penalty, they would be required to renew their ID cards every five years instead of every 10.

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