The Israeli Privacy Protection Authority Objects to Police Use of Facial Recognition Technology

In a comprehensive opinion published in response to a governmental draft bill for amending the Police Ordinance (Special Photographic Systems), 5781-2021, the Israeli Privacy Protection Authority (PPA) disapproved the police’s use of facial recognition technologies.

The PPA stated that not only might permanent and systematic monitoring of individuals’ movement lead to the misuse of sensitive personal information, it might also ingrain a belief within the public that they are being constantly monitored, thereby discouraging them from exercising their civil rights. This concern is amplified by the fact that the draft bill unprecedently authorizes the police to conclude the location of any person captured by the cameras (derived from analyzing the footage), regardless of whether that person was a suspect when captured on camera.

The PPA stated that this could amount to abusive use of information and must be performed with great reverence, emphasizing that it believes that the restrictions specified in the draft bill are insufficient. One of the main concerns PPA indicated is the fact the purposes for processing the information collected from the cameras are much broader than the purposes for installing the cameras in the first place.

The National Cyber Directorate (NCD) also expressed similar reservations regarding the use of facial recognition technology, though not specifically by the police. The NCD emphasized that facial recognition technology involves material risks, mainly the invasion of privacy, misuse of information, and harassment of innocent individuals due to errors and failures. The NCD called for comprehensive regulation of the issue, focusing on several guiding principles such as purpose limitation, proportionality, supervised use, data minimization, and transparency.

CLICK HERE to read PPA’s response to the Draft Bill amending the Police Ordinance (Special Photographic Systems), 5781-2021 (in Hebrew).

CLICK HERE to read NCD’s opinion on the use of facial recognition technology (in Hebrew).