Gov't green lights 'smart' ID cards program

Legislative c'tee approves changes to population registry regulations; civil rights attorney warns of identity theft.

May 16, 2012 15:58
2 minute read.
Teudat Zehut, Israeli ID card

Teudat Zehut, Israeli ID card 370. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved changes to the Population Registry regulations on Wednesday – including regarding the issuance of planned new “smart” electronic ID cards.

The approval gives the green light for the Population Registry to begin a two-year pilot of the smart ID cards in the near future.

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Under the proposals, citizens receiving a smart ID card will also be given a personal password granting access to read data stored on the card’s electronic chip. That password can be changed, should a citizen request it.

Civil rights attorneys have criticized the smart ID card proposals, particularly plans to include biometric data such as fingerprints, on the cards.

Opponents of the biometric ID card plans, including attorney Avner Pinchuk from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, have warned of “irreversible damage” should Israelis’ biometric data, including fingerprints, be leaked.

ACRI says such a leak could greatly increase the risk of identity theft, and that this is a particular concern in the wake of a massive Population Registry data theft.

Six people have been indicted over the data theft, in which a Welfare and Social Services Ministry computer contractor allegedly stole personal data on 9 million Israelis and sold it to a haredi organization. The data ended up freely available for download on the Internet.

As well as approving new regulations for smart ID cards, the Knesset Law Committee also gave the green light to regulations for the current “low-tech” ID cards.

One of the approved regulations stipulates that all ID cards will be valid for 10 years, after which citizens must renew their cards.

Current ID cards will also expire in 10 years.

MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) opposed the move, arguing that it would be harder for the public, and particularly for elderly people, to have to renew their ID cards every decade.

“It would be a burden for elderly people to have to stand in line to renew their ID cards,” Maklev said, and called on the Interior Ministry to help elderly people by running a mobile unit to issue ID cards.

Maklev also opposed plans for a 24-hour, seven-day a week Interior Ministry service center, arguing that this would violate Shabbat and Jewish holidays.

The committee also approved adding new personal information to the main body of ID cards.

Israelis registered as of “no religion” and who chose to marry under the partnership covenant law will be recorded on their ID cards as a “partner in a partnership covenant.”

New ID cards will also record the ID numbers of a person’s spouse and those of any children, as well as the name of the person’s grandfather.

Where appropriate and if a parent requests it, the ID card will record that a child has died and state the date of death.

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