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      Internet Group: Biometric Database is Dangerous

      The Israeli Internet Union asked MKs to "act to stop the passage of the law requiring a biometric database."
      By David Lev
      First Publish: 11/15/2009, 7:48 PM / Last Update: 11/15/2009, 9:06 PM

      Israel News Photo: Archive


      The much-debated law is set to be brought for its second and third reading in the Knesset Monday – and if it passes, all Israelis would be required to register their faces and fingerprints in a special database,
      The Israeli Internet Union issued an open letter to Knesset members Sunday, asking them to "act to stop the passage of the law that would require biometric identification measures and a biometric database, at least in its current form."

      The much-debated law is set to be brought for its second and third reading in the Knesset Monday – and if it passes, all Israelis would be required to register their faces and fingerprints in a special database, to be run by the Interior Ministry. The Ministry will use the system to help prevent the entry of illegal immigrants; the biometric data will be almost impossible to falsify, advocates of the program say, so weeding out illegal workers and immigrants will be much easier. According to the law, police and security agencies would have access to the database only under special circumstances, such as in the case of an imminent threat, and only by court order.

      According to the internet group, however, the opportunity for abuse is rife, and the danger and damage such a database could cause would far outweigh any benefits that could be obtained from it. The law is a danger to Israeli democracy, the group says, as well as a danger to the privacy and security of citizens. "Despite all the theoretical promises on the utility and safety of this law, Israeli history shows that leaks from information databases, especially those controlled by the government, are common. Such leaks could lead to increases in identity theft, convicting innocent people of crimes they did not commit, since disproving the biometric evidence will be very difficult. The potential damage to Israeli citizens would be irreversible – and this is without even considering the damage the database will do to democracy in Israel," the group said.

      According to the group, Israel, if the law passes, will be the first country in the world to build such a biometric database for all its citizens.