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Israel: Law on Biometric Methods and Data Preservation

(Dec. 17, 2009) On December 7, 2009, the Knesset, Israel's parliament, passed the Law on the Inclusion of Biometric Methods and Data in Identification Documents and in a Data Bank, 6570-2009. The Law establishes rules for the issuance of identification cards and travel documents that will include biometric, digitally identifiable photographs of a person's face and of two fingers. The Law establishes a data bank for the preservation of biometric identification at the Ministry of the Interior.

According to the Law, the data will be preserved under a security code and will not include other data related to each resident of Israel. It will be possible, however, to link the data in the bank with identification numbers for the purposes of crime prevention and investigation of serious offenses and to confiscate property related to such offenses. Such links will be made for the identification of a person or a corpse, including missing persons, and for the transfer of intelligence to enforcement authorities outside Israel. The data will also be accessible to security authorities for the purpose of fulfilling their duties under law.

The Law would first be implemented for a test period of two years and would include only residents who had agreed in writing to participate in the pilot program. After evaluating the effect of the implementation of the Law on the participants, the need for the data bank, and the type of data and its utility, the Minister of the Interior, in consultation with the Ministers of the Treasury and of Law and with the approval of specified ministerial and parliamentary committees, may either cancel the data bank, extend the pilot testing for two additional years, or implement the Law for all residents. (Law on the Inclusion of Biometric Methods and Data in Identification Documents and in a Data Bank, 6570-2009 [in Hebrew], Knesset website, & explanatory notes notes on the bill [in Hebrew], Knesset website, (both last visited Dec. 15, 2009).)