Israeli gov’t illegally shares facial images of millions of citizens

i24NEWS

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A passenger waits in line next to the new biometrics identification system to go through the security check in Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Jan. 5, 2010.
AP / Ariel SchalitA passenger waits in line next to the new biometrics identification system to go through the security check in Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Jan. 5, 2010.

The practice that went on for 7 years violates the principles of Israel’s Biometrics Law

Israel’s Population and Immigration Agency in the past seven years shared biometric images of millions of Israelis with an unknown governmental agency, in breach of Israel’s 2009 Biometrics law. 

The violation was disclosed by the head of the Israel National Cyber Directorate’s Identity and Applications Unit, Roy Friedman.

According to the commissioner's report that came out last week, the transfer of data started in 2015 and went on until March 2021. During that period of time reduced-resolution images of millions of Israelis were shared with the unnamed governmental agency which contradicts the principles of the country’s biometric database act. 

Since the commissioner learned about the violation, he demanded in three reports that the Population Agency either fix the problem or shut down the database. However, according to Haaretz, the authority failed to resolve the issue for over two years. Friedman promised to monitor the situation until the gap is closed. 

The collection of data was initially allowed for the Population Agency’s service providers and other staff only. Last week the Israeli government accepted the police’s request for posting biometric cameras in public spaces. The cameras are planned to be placed at entrances to communities to detect and prevent serious criminal offenses. 

The government will vote Sunday on the extension of the biometric database law for another three years. Later the Knesset is expected to vote on the final decision. 

In October 2021 a major data leak occurred when hackers attacked the Israeli Defense Ministry leaking more than 11 terabytes of data. 

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