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Biometric database with ‘all forms of identity defense’ dangerous, Israeli govt committee warns

Biometric database with ‘all forms of identity defense’ dangerous, Israeli govt committee warns

A committee of Israel’s Knesset has instructed the country’s interior ministry to scrub fingerprint biometric data from its database of passport information by May 31, 2022, The Jerusalem Post reports.

The Law, Justice and Constitution Committee rejected Interior Minister Arye Deri’s attempt to keep fingerprint data as a fraud-prevention measure, with the committee’s head warning that “all forms of identity defense” should not be held in a single database.

A database containing biometric data of 4.5 million Israeli citizens was found to not be properly secured or encrypted by a report from Israel’s State Comptroller earlier this year. The Israeli National Biometric Database Authority (BDA), meanwhile, is reported to have neglected to report a pair of security incidents in 2017 and 2018.

A new biometric database law was passed in Israel in 2017, when the Knesset considered the inclusion of fingerprints necessary for fraud detection and to assist criminal investigations.

Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) official Roi Friedman told the committee that since then, facial recognition technology has become robust enough to identify people for up to ten years or longer, twice as long as previously. INCD said the number of incidents in which fingerprints has been effective in helping prevent fraud was miniscule, according to the Post.

The Interior Ministry says that it will consider deleting the fingerprint data, but that the state would have to purchase and integrate additional facial recognition technology to replace it. Deri has now established a task force to look into the consequences of and steps necessary for deleting fingerprints from the database.

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