Privacy Council opposes biometric database

It warns of the risk of information leaks and says it will be the death knell for citizens' privacy.

The Public Council for the Protection of Privacy today asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to set up a biometric database, because of the risk of information leaks and concern that it will be the death knell for citizens' privacy.

The council was set up to advise the minister of justice, and comprises legal and technology experts. The council expresses opinions on aspects of privacy and information security of bills and government measures and advises the registrar of databases.

In the letter to Netanyahu, the council said that the establishment of a biometric database, its maintenance and security, would likely carry a heavy financial burden. Countries that have considered setting up such databases estimate their cost in the billions of dollars, and the estimates are constantly rising.

The council argues that, because of these costs, the US government recently cancelled its RealID program. The British government does not mandate citizens to carry biometric ID cards and will probably cancel the entire project because of its huge cost and broad public opposition.

The council adds that it supports the issuing of smart ID cards and travel documents, and does not oppose documents with biometric features. However, it does not believe there is a need for a central biometric database for these purposes, because there are simpler and better alternatives for fraud prevention during the issuing process. For example, Germany issues biometric passports and ID cards without a central database because of concerns about the over-concentration of power that would harm individual rights.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on August 5, 2009

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2009

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