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Proposal for Israeli police use of live public facial recognition goes before lawmakers

Proposal for Israeli police use of live public facial recognition goes before lawmakers

Israel’s government is moving forward with plans to deploy live facial recognition in public spaces for criminal investigations.

The Times of Israel reports that the Ministerial Committee for Legislation held a special session to grant preliminary approval to a bill that would provide the legal basis for the biometrics deployment.

The bill is co-sponsored by Justice Minister Yariv Levin and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who previewed it in February. It will have to be approved by the Knesset before it can be signed into law.

The proposed legislation allows the facial recognition technology to be used for the investigation and prevention of serios crimes, and also retroactively establishes the legal footing for the controversial Hawk-Eye license plate recognition program.

Police would be able to seek approval from a senior officer, and with it use facial recognition on all cameras covering roads that access a particular area where there is determined to be a high probability of a serious risk to personal safety or state security. Approval would last for six months, with a further six-month extension possible.

The police would then report all uses of facial recognition to the Knesset and the Attorney General on an annual basis.

The bill is presented as part of a response to a wave of violence afflicting Israel’s Arab community, in which the number of murder victims is more than double that of last year so far.

A controversial deployment of facial recognition to the West Bank has previously been alleged.

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