Israeli gov't to pass bill allowing police use of public biometric cameras

The bill, if passed, will retroactively regulate the police's years-long illegal use of the Hawk's Eye system to identify license plates.

 A SECURITY camera  (photo credit: TYRONE SIU/ REUTERS)
(photo credit: TYRONE SIU/ REUTERS)

The government is expected in its Sunday weekly meeting to approve a bill that will allow Israel Police to use advanced biometric cameras in public spaces.

In doing so, the government will retroactively regulate the use of the Hawk's Eye system that identifies license plates on cars on the roads.

This is a governmental bill from the National Security Ministry that was approved for the first time last year by the Bennett-Lapid government and wasn't advanced because the Knesset went to elections.

Already then, the bill gave rise to criticism of violation of privacy and fear of the use of draconian surveillance measures.

The bill is now coming back to the government's table for a quickened process of approval in preparation for the country's response to the High Court of Justice in two weeks in the lawsuit filed by the Civil Rights Association against the police's years-long illegal use of the Hawk's Eye system without regulating the system with legislation and rules.

 CCTV security street camera (Illustrative) (credit: STOCKVAULT) CCTV security street camera (Illustrative) (credit: STOCKVAULT)

How does the bill justify the use of public biometric systems?

It was written in the explanation for the bill, which would regulate police's use of special cameras and biometric systems in general, that "the system is necessary for the fulfillment of the duty assigned to the police to investigate criminal offenses and is intended to enable the performance of the core duties and tasks assigned to it."

According to the bill, the special camera systems are "a useful and effective tool for the sake of revealing and preventing crime, keeping the public order and protecting the public and its safety."

The bill adds that the systems include "processing abilities that enable photography of objects or people and compares them to information that was entered into the system in a way that may help it recognize the object or the person photographed."

The bill recognizes that there is indeed "more than necessary harm to the right of those photographed to privacy."