Israeli Biometric Database Likely to Be Frozen Next Month

By law, if until June 30, 2017 the legislation procedures aren’t completed, the biometric database will be deleted.

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Biometric technology, in this case in use in Switzerland.
Biometric technology, in this case in use in Switzerland.Credit: Reuters

The experimental biometric database is likely to be frozen next month, pending a Knesset decision on whether to make it permanent or close it down, the lawmaker heading the committee supervising the project said Wednesday.

MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) said the decision would be made in a few months, and he would not prolong the experimental stage of the biometric database during this time.

Discussions in the Knesset will begin in January at the earliest, to examine data security and whether the data bank is necessary.

“The prime minister and interior minister are taking their time in submitting an opinion about the database, despite my request to them in letters,” Slomiansky said. “If they don’t submit, we’ll make decisions without them.”

By law, if the legislation procedures aren’t completed by June 30, 2017, the biometric database will be deleted.

Yet this is unlikely, since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Arye Dery are planning to advance legislation requiring all Israeli citizens to join the database.

However, many of the politicians dealing with the subject believe the legislation procedures will continue until after the end of the year. In this case, the interior minister is likely to ask to extend the pilot period for longer.
If the pilot is not extended, the possibility of issuing biometric ID cards and passports as of January 1, 2017, will be suspended.

The committee, consisting of MKs from the constitution, interior and science Knesset panels, convened Wednesday to agree on a change in tracing imposters attempting to cheat the data bank and get ID cards issued under false names.

The biometric documents project started in June 2013, for a two-year experimental period. The period has since been extended twice – by nine months each time – and is due to end this December.

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