Biometric registry slammed in light of personal info theft

Minister Eitan calls for biometric program to be halted; ACRI calls theft a warning: Don't give your fingerprints to those who can't guard info.

October 24, 2011 14:52
2 minute read.
Biometric fingerprint [illustrative]

Biometric fingerprint identity 311. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)


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Government Services Minister Michael Eitan (Likud) called for the immediate reevaluation and halt of the establishment of a biometric population registry and identity system following the announcement Monday that sensitive personal information of every Israeli citizen was stolen by a government contractor and put on the Internet.

"The state is building a time bomb that will explode in all of our faces," Eitan said of the biometric program that is set to begin a pilot program next month. "There is no disagreement that the biometric database is dangerous, but [they] are making false promises that the database will be hermetically sealed with unprecedented security."

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He questioned whether it can be ensured that there will be no other disgruntled workers among those working with the biometric registry, who may distribute the public's finger prints and facial scans.

The biometric population registry, Eitan said, "will be leaked and broken into also, and it's only a matter of time. I hope that the lesson will now be learned and a complete reevaluation will take place in relation to the dangerous and useless biometric database."

The Association for Civil Rights (ACRI) in Israel praised the Justice Ministry for solving the five-year-old case of the theft of personal information from the Population Registry but warned that such information, if obtained by criminals or terrorists would cause irreversible damage.

The case of the stolen information from the Population Registry "is a warning to all Israeli residents: Don't give your finger prints to somebody who doesn't know how to guard much less sensitive personal information," head of privacy and information for ACRI, lawyer Avner Pinchuk said.

The Interior Ministry, Pinchuk added, "recently admitted that a leak of biometric information would cause 'irreparable damage to an individual citizen' but promises us that it knows how to protect the biometric registry." The pilot program for biometric identity cards is set to begin later this year.


MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) also called for the biometric pilot program to be stopped. "The danger of Israeli citizens' data from the biometric registry falling into hands of criminal or enemy hands is terrifying and must bring about new thinking," he said.

The introduction of "smart" passports and identity cards, Nitzan continued, "does not require the establishment of a biometric registry. The Interior Ministry worked against the expert recommendations, did not strictly compartmentalize, and created a situation that endangers all of us."

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