By DAN IZENBERG, JPOSTLEO GIOSUÈCOM STAFF
A Knesset plenum vote on the highly controversial biometric law planned for Monday, was postponed.
The vote is expected to be held next week.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made the decision after human rights groups threatened to file a petition to the Supreme Court of Justice if the Knesset approved the bill. Likud and Labor MKs had also demanded the vote be postponed, claiming that the bill had not been thoroughly discussed.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, bill-sponsor MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima), and Netanyahu met in the afternoon and decided to try and reach a compromise which will allow for the coalition to pass the law next weel.
Some claim the law will make Israel a safer place to live while others warn will threaten the privacy of every resident in the country.
According to the bill, Interior Ministry officials will be authorized to take the fingerprints and facial contours of all Israeli residents for the purpose of issuing identity cards, passports or other travel documents. The documents will include a micro-processing chip (similar to those used in credit cards), which will contain photos of two fingerprints and the person's facial contours.
At the same time, the government will establish two data banks, one including the name of the card-bearer and the other the pictures of the fingerprints and the facial contours. The two data banks will be established in two separate ministries and will be linked by a code.
The splitting of the data bank was an addition to the bill meant to add another safety measure so that anyone managing to penetrate one data bank would have only part of the information and it would be meaningless without the information from the other data bank.
Sheetrit, who began working on the legislation when he served as minister of the interior and continued doing so in his current capacity as Chairman of the Knesset Science and technology Committee, said, "The protection provided for this data bank is among the best in the world. It is protected at a level of 11 on a scale of one to 10."
Sheetrit also warned that there are 350,000 people living in Israel with fraudulent documents including tens of thousands with forged passports.
Much of the opposition to the bill comes from those who believe that the information included in the two data banks will be leaked.
One of the outspoken opponents of the bill is Likud Minister Michael Eitan. He told The Jerusalem Post that not only will the system threaten the privacy of all Israelis, but even worse, it will create an atmosphere in which everyone will feel their privacy is being invaded."
Although Eitan said he strongly opposed the law, he said he would not vote against it because of his position as a member of the cabinet.
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