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Israeli government passes biometric database law


Earlier this week, the Knesset passed the biometric database law in its second and third readings after all concerns were addressed and resolved, according to a report by Israel National News.

The move comes a couple months after the Knesset extended Israel’s biometric database pilot program until February 28, in light that the program will likely be approved, albeit with a few revisions.

The bill, which saw a final vote of 39-29 in favor, was significantly revised from its initial version. The Knesset amended the bill to address several privacy concerns.

As a result, the database will not include fingerprints of any children under the age of 16, nor will it be used for unusual police applications.

The national biometric database will contain the photos and fingerprints of all residents of the State, except for those citizens who do not want to be entered into the database.

Instead, these individuals will have their data connected to their smart cards, and will therefore be required to renew their passports and ID cards once every five years instead of every 10.

“At the last minute we included [the provision] that the fingerprints of minors would not be added to the database,” said Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home), the chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. “And anyone who has doubts [about being included in the database] can request to have his fingerprints deleted.”

Many MKs criticized the biometric database law as infringing on privacy rights, such as MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List), who said that the law placed Israeli citizens under “big brother.”

MK Yael Cohen Paran (Zionist Union) said that the country’s residents do not fully understand what the law entails. However, once the public finds out the implications of the law, they will be angry.

Meanwhile, MK Zuhair Bahloul (Zionist Union) said that the development of the biometric database was irresponsible considering the allegations that the Democratic National Committee was hacked during the 2016 US Presidential election.

In addition, Bahloui believes that the database would place the country’s residents at risk of having their personal data compromised.

“There is no debate about whether smart-cards are necessary,” said MK Yulia Malinovsky (Yisrael Beyteinu). “We are in a new era and they are required. The question is about the buffer, since we fear that one day it may come out one way or another. I am convinced that the situation in Israel is good compared to other states, where [the situation is] like the wild west.”

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