Biometric IDs pose massive threat to Israeli citizens

Five years from today, when the police uncover who leaked the biometric database to global terror organizations, the world will wonder how we let this happen.

Biometric fingerprint identity 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Biometric fingerprint identity 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Following extensive discussions at the Knesset and a powerful media campaign, citizens of Israel will soon be requested to provide their fingerprints and photographs to a central database for the issuance of new identity documents.
Needless to say, such information is highly sensitive and should it be accessed by the wrong parties, could cause irreparable damage - as demonstrated by Monday’s announcement of information theft at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services.
RELATED:Biometric ID database to be launched in NovemberSince our faces and fingerprints are the most ubiquitous identifying features left behind on a daily basis, storing them in a centralized location poses a massive security threat. Such information means that a person with access to the database can know everything about who we are and where we’ve been. Needless to say, if it falls into the hands of a terrorist or criminal organization, the repercussions would be devastating.
Opponents of the biometric database law argued their case in the Knesset with the claim that the security of Israel’s citizens had already been compromised with the leak on the Internet of the current Israeli census. But proponents in favor of the law, led by Knesset Member Meir Sheetrit, claimed that the government was not to blame for the leak and that in all likelihood the census had been released by political parties that had received a copy during election time.
However, yesterday’s news proves otherwise: the Israeli Information, Law and Technology Authority (ILITA) of the Justice Ministry found that not only had the census been leaked by a governmentally-contracted employee at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, but that far more sensitive details had also been stolen. The suspect sold the information to a private buyer, who then disseminated it for profit on Internet databases.
Anyone with access to the online databases can know the place of residence and next of kin of millions of Israelis – including many from political and military echelons, whose personal data is otherwise classified.
Over the course of the coming months, every Israeli citizen will be requested by the Interior Ministry to submit their fingerprints and facial photographs for the database. The promise of increased security is somehow expected to entice citizens to be in support of the plan for new and improved identification documents.
Yet how could the government, which failed to keep the census from being leaked, then be expected to demand from its citizens further personal identification? Joining this database will only lead to repeating the same mistake again and affording the possibility that criminals, terrorists and nosy neighbors alike will do their utmost to destroy our privacy and put our wellbeing in jeopardy.
I only fear that the day may come when the police discover that the biometric database has been leaked to terrorist organizations all over the world, and that only then will we realize our folly in not stopping it when we could have.
The writer is an Israeli cyberlaw attorney and an activist advocating against the biometric database. He blogs at