A law to allow the use of electronic signatures online, which was passed Monday night by the Knesset on its second and third (final) readings, was hailed by Science and Technology Committee chairman MK Meir Sheetrit as “a revolution.”As computer and communications technologies have advanced, and the use of the Internet for commerce and a variety of other activities has expanded, so has the need for electronic signatures, which provide the highest level of protection to ensure the user’s identity.Among the items the state can issue as approved electronic documents are biometric identity cards, which can be used in dealings with the state and for state employee ID cards, including those for soldiers, police and prison workers. Biometric ID cards contain data from fingerprint or retina scans.The Knesset committee held many sessions on the subject, and disputes emerged between the state and private sector.“This law does not turn the state into a competitor of the private market, as would have been if the original version of the bill had been passed. It merely determines those places in which the state is an authorizing factor and increases the use of the Internet for government- citizen relationships and emergency situations,” Sheetrit said. “It sets down checks and balances to prevent the state from turning into a competitor of the private market. Every requirement that binds private companies wanting to make authorizations is also required of the government.”Sheetrit added that biometric identification would greatly improve state services.“Every citizen who wants to use an electronic signature in his identity card will receive the service free and can use the signature for obtaining all kinds of services over the Internet,” the Kadima MK said.The law cannot be implemented, however, until the Biometric Law is activated.“It is very complicated, and state regulations have to be in place,” he explained. “Individuals must be appointed to special tasks so that its experimental phase can begin. But we are still waiting for primary regulations that should have come from the interior minister in March of this year.”According to the new law, the interior minister can opt to create regulations that minimize the state’s responsibility for the certificates and for other documents it approves. According to Sheetrit, there would be no difference between the responsibilities borne by the state and those of the private market.