The Israeli Minister of Interior, Mr. Aryeh Deri, has announced that the biometric database, nowadays nearing the end of its pilot phase, will transition to permanent, full-scale operation. The database, in its permanent phase, will include a facial photo and two fingerprints for each recorded individual.
Israelis applying to obtain or renew their government-issued ID or passports during the pilot phase could voluntarily choose to obtain biometric-based national ID cards and passports, by providing their fingerprint samples and a facial photograph, to be digitally stored in the national database and on chips embedded in their newly issued national ID cards and passports. Now, with the Minister’s decision, collection of biometric information from passport or national ID applicants will be mandatory. Nevertheless, applicants will be able to opt-out of having their fingerprints taken and recorded in the database. In that case, they will be issued national ID cards or passports with a 5 years expiry date, rather than 10 years for those willing to have their fingerprints taken as well. The shorter expiry period is intended to make forgeries and identity thefts more difficult.
The Minister’s press release indicates that “the biometric database is needed to prevent identity theft of Israeli and it is safeguarded and secured according to the highest standards… This plan ideally balances protection of privacy with the state’s duty to protect its citizens from identity fraud and theft. This is in order to provide Israeli residents reliable and credible documentation”.
According to the Ministry’s announcement, the ministerial decision was made after the Minister carefully considered the recommendations of all stakeholders involved in the pilot phase. Concurrent with the Ministry’s announcement, the government issued a draft bill to amend the existing statute governing the biometric database to reflect the ministerial decision. Source (in Hebrew): Calcalist (by Omer Kabir).