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The government is about to begin compiling a biometric database of all Israelis
that will put their personal data in the hands of at least 10,000 government
employees, according to a position paper released Sunday by the Jerusalem
Institute for Market Studies.
“The plan to establish a central biometric
database, along with the use of biometric identity cards, will make Israel the
only Western democracy to store biometric information about its own citizens,”
economist Diana Zaks wrote. “Israel will be in the company of countries such as
Ethiopia, Indonesia, Yemen and Pakistan.”
Founded in 2003, JIMS is a
nonprofit economic-policy think tank whose declared mission is to promote social
progress in Israel through economic freedom and individual liberty.
position paper, which analyses the Biometric Law passed by the Knesset in 2009,
warns that if implemented, the Interior Ministry will be tasked with converting
Israelis’ identity cards into smart cards with digital chips storing biometric
data, and at the same time the government will establish a central database with
each individual’s personal biometric information.
According to the paper,
the government is about to embark on a two-year pilot program with voluntary
registration, before the program becomes mandatory for all citizens.
paper argues that the program presents a host of dangers, including leakage of
data, possible use by terrorists, criminal penetration and identity theft,
increase in police powers and likely pressure on the government to make the data
available to local or international businesses or to pharmaceutical companies
“Considering the marginal benefits from establishing a
biometric database, the alternative means of achieving its aims, its high cost
and the many dangers involved, the government of Israel could do well to
consider whether such a database is necessary, and Israelis could do well to
express themselves concerning this intended invasion of their privacy and the
dangers ahead,” Zaks wrote.