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Israel: Pilot Program for Biometric Identification

(Dec. 3, 2012) On November 28, 2012, the Joint Committee on Science and Technology, Internal Affairs and Environment along with the Constitution Law and Justice Committee (hereinafter the Joint Committee) of the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) approved a decree authorizing the launching of a pilot program to evaluate “the practicality of enforcement of the Biometric Law, problems in its implementation and the dangers in possessing such sensitive data.” (Knesset Announcement [in Hebrew] (Nov. 28, 2012).) The program will run from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2014. (Id.) The step was taken in accordance with the Biometric Law, which has the formal title of the Law for Including Biometric Identifying Means and Data in Documents of Identification and in Databases 5770-2009 (SEFER HAHUKIM [Book of Laws, official gazette], No. 2217, p. 256).)

The decree, entitled the Decree for Including Biometric Identifying Means and Data in Documents of Identification and in Databases (Test Period) 5771-2012, offers Israeli citizens the option of voluntarily providing imprints of their two index fingers in addition to the images of their faces, in order to obtain a “smart” identification card. The Decree introduces a requirement of reports to the Knesset during and at the termination of the pilot program, regarding its implementation. (Knesset Announcement, supra.)

The Joint Committee has reportedly restricted participation of minors younger than 16 years of age, as well as solicitation of such participation except in connection with the issue of a passport, in order to protect minors’ privacy rights. (Id.)