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Israel shows what biometric data control looks like during war

Israel shows what biometric data control looks like during war

An Israeli technology news feed is reporting a massive change in who can use civilian and private biometric data in that nation now at war.

Calcalist says a slate of new data powers are moving through the national legislative body, the Knesset, as regulatory changes and memoranda of law.

If the military, law enforcement and intelligence branches get what they want – and courts don’t push back – the government will gain video surveillance previously only seen in authoritarian regimes.

A Calcalist article says the redistribution of access authority approved by the Knesset is not just broad, across government agencies, but also deep. The motivation “is to reverse past [government] decisions.”

The biggest development is how the Knesset has given total access to the National Biometric Database, which exists “to protect the identity of the Israeli citizens and to ensure that every person has only one set of official documentation and one unique identity — the person’s true identity,” according to the Israeli government.

The database will now be used to help identify the remains of those murdered as well as citizens who are missing or have been kidnapped.

But emergency regulations allow transferring biometric data to security forces simply to identify a person if local events are declared a “special situation” anywhere “on the home front.”

The new access, according to the publication, will not be managed or monitored by other government agencies.

Information in the national database logically will become a new biometric database, one that is subject to none of the previous or even amended regulations.

A kicker to these changes is the state’s new ability to hack into computer systems to operate privately owned cameras and to change, delete or disrupt video images. Israeli Defense Forces will be authorized to treat the information as their own.

There is a fig-leaf justification: Soldiers would have to be faced with immediate and urgent situation and be seeking data that endangers Israel.

Some provisions, like the memo, are scheduled to end in six months at which point the government can renew it for another six months.

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