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Article Israel: Legislation Authorizing Activation of Special Photography Systems for Crime Prevention Adopted into Law

On January 3, 2024, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed the Police Ordinance (Amendment No. 40), 5784-2024 (amendment law), amending the Police Ordinance (New Version), 5731-1971, as amended.

Objectives of the Amendment Law

According to its explanatory notes, the amendment law was intended to regulate the installation and use of special photography systems (SPSs) by the Israel Police in the public space in order to maintain a proper balance between privacy rights and the public interest in preventing and detecting crime, adjudicating offenders, and protecting public order, persons, and property.

The drafters of the amendment law explained that the use of SPSs by the Israel police was needed to fulfill its legal obligation to investigate criminal offenses. The amendment law would reportedly provide a legislative basis and establish an oversight mechanism for the activation of systems such as the Hawk-Eye, which is based on an LPR (license plate recognition) mechanism that enables the tracking and identification of license plates and determining whether a vehicle was stolen or if its owner’s driver’s license has expired. Activation of the Hawk-Eye had previously been controversial in the absence of regulation.

Scope of the Amendment Law’s Application

The amendment law defines a “special photography system” (SPS) for purposes of applying the law as

… a system consisting of one camera or more, for which both of the following [requirements] are met:

(1) The system includes a computerized processor, which enables storage and processing of data or images;

(2) The system has the technological capability for single-value identification of an object in real time and thus allows it to be traced or detected by another person. … (Police Ordinance §10 A, as amended.)

Objectives of the Installation and Operation of Stationary SPSs

The placement and operation of an SPS requires approval by an Investigations and Intelligence Directorate police officer with the rank of at least brigadier general (authorized officer) or lieutenant general for periods not exceeding three months. (§§ 10 A & H.)

The amendment law limits the installation and operation of stationary SPSs, including those with real-time alerts, to the following objectives:

  • Preventing, foiling, or detecting criminal offenses or offenses that may endanger the safety or security of a person, the public, or the state.
  • Identifying persons involved in planning or committing such offenses.
  • Preventing serious harm to the security of persons or property when there is a real concern for their safety.
  • Locating a missing person or a person at risk.
  • Enforcing prohibitions or restraining orders against entry to public places.

Operation of and Procedures for Using a Mobile SPS

The operation of a mobile SPS must conform with a procedure that is formulated by an authorized officer in accordance with the above objectives and that takes into consideration the type of camera and the dates of its operation so as to limit harm to personal privacy. The procedure must regulate, among other things, the extent and the means appropriate for informing the public about the placement of special mobile cameras in a manner that will not harm the objectives of their operation.

The amendment law further limits the provision of information stored in an SPS to specified public bodies under enumerated conditions, the supervision and control over the SPS’s operation, and confidentiality requirements that apply to information retrieved via the SPS.

Oversight of SPS Operations

The amendment law requires the Israel Police and public bodies that receive information retrieved by SPSs to annually report to the attorney general on items listed in the sixth addendum to the Police Ordinance, including the number and the type of stationary and mobile SPSs activated, their objectives, and the number of bodies authorized to access its database containing information derived from SPS systems, listed according to their role and to the details of their access permissions.

The amendment law also imposes a duty on the minister of national security to report to the Knesset National Security Committee on a detailed list of specified items. The list includes the number of photographs used as evidence in investigation files; the number of cases in which an indictment was filed; the number of objects identified in an SPS; the number of persons authorized to access the information stored in SPSs; and the number of cases in which an SPS was used to urgently handle a life-threatening event or an event that endangered state security.

Ruth Levush, Law Library of Congress
March 28, 2024

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Chicago citation style:

Levush, Ruth. Israel: Legislation Authorizing Activation of Special Photography Systems for Crime Prevention Adopted into Law. 2024. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-03-27/israel-legislation-authorizing-activation-of-special-photography-systems-for-crime-prevention-adopted-into-law/.

APA citation style:

Levush, R. (2024) Israel: Legislation Authorizing Activation of Special Photography Systems for Crime Prevention Adopted into Law. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-03-27/israel-legislation-authorizing-activation-of-special-photography-systems-for-crime-prevention-adopted-into-law/.

MLA citation style:

Levush, Ruth. Israel: Legislation Authorizing Activation of Special Photography Systems for Crime Prevention Adopted into Law. 2024. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-03-27/israel-legislation-authorizing-activation-of-special-photography-systems-for-crime-prevention-adopted-into-law/>.