Minister for the Improvement of Government Services Michael Eitan called for the abolishment of the biometric database project, on Monday.

Eitan's call comes in the wake of Monday's revelation that a former Welfare Ministry employee stole the Interior Ministry's Population Registry information in 2006, and that the data was eventually posted online.

"False promises are being made to us that the database will be hermetically sealed," Eitan said. "Who can assure us that disgruntled employees at the biometric database won't distribute our fingerprints and pictures far and wide?

"This database, like other databases, like the Population Registry databases, will also be hacked," the minister added.

Also on Monday, MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz ) called for a halt to the project, noting that the Interior Ministry had not installed the compartmentalization recommended by experts and had created "a situation that puts us all at risk."

The head of privacy and information at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Avner Pinchuk, said the hacking of the Population Registry database was a warning, and called on Israelis not to cooperate with the biometric project.

Pinchuk said the pilot phase of the biometric database project was due to begin in a month.

The original law allowing for the establishment of the biometric database was passed with the purpose of upgrading the identity cards and passports of all citizens to prevent their frequent forgings. The establishment of a database of fingerprints and pictures was then included in the law, but concern over leaks led to the establishment of a ministerial committee to forge a compromise.

The law was passed in December 2009, but implementation was postponed for two years.

According to the compromise, citizens who do not want to provide biometric details will receive ordinary ID cards and passports. However, the law also states that if other countries, such as the United States, determine that they will allow entry only to bearers of biometric passports, the Interior Ministry will have to issue such passports.

The law also states that following the pilot phase, the interior minister can apply it to all citizens, or extend it. If the law is not implemented in four years, the entire biometric database will be erased.