When Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar launched the trial period for Israel’s biometric database on Sunday, he almost pleaded with the public not to be alarmed. “There is no reason to panic,” he said, promising that the system that was set up “met the highest standards of data security and privacy protection.”
No doubt the database has high-level security to reassure citizens, but that won’t protect individuals’ private information - such as their fingerprints and other identifying biological traits - from those permitted to enter the database. Based on the Israel Police’s experience with databases, assumptions can be made about what will happen without strong safeguards to prevent the misuse of the biometric information by those permitted access.
The Israel Police has its own database and relatively easy access to the country’s largest collections of personal information. The police can request information from government ministries, Internet companies, credit card companies and cellphone companies. In emergency situations, the police can even access databases without a court order.
According to police regulations, the use of databases is limited to a defined group of police officers and is meant for work purposes only. However, hundreds of police, mainly officers, have official approval to access databases that allow them to peer into our private lives.
Read more at Haaretz.com.