Israeli Legislation Committee Endorses a Bill for Facial Recognition Cameras in Public Spaces

The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs approved a government bill, initiated by Ministers Yariv Levin and Itamar Ben Gvir, to promote and regulate the use of biometric systems in the public space, including by the Israel Police. The draft bill includes far-reaching implications regarding the right to privacy and has attracted significant criticism and opposition.

The biometric systems, which opponents call “big brother in the public space”, would include processing capabilities that photograph individuals and compare them to a database loaded into the system, making it possible to identify the persons photographed. Identities of persons of interest can be loaded into the system ahead of time to track certain people in real time, or by way of an after-the-fact review of photos previously captured by the system.

The Bill’s explanatory notes indicate that “these uses allow the police to trace the identity and location of suspects in the commission of crimes, and therefore constitute an efficient and effective tool to detect and prevent crimes and fulfilling the duties of the police in maintaining public order and protecting public peace and security”.

The bill includes an annual reporting obligation to the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) and the attorney general (which approved the constitutionality of the bill).

Click here to read the bill to amend the Police Ordinance (No. (Biometric Photographic System), 2023 (In Hebrew).