According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation “Mandatory nationwide identification systems have been implemented in a number of countries including Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Peru and Spain. While these schemes vary by country, individuals are typically assigned an ID number, which is used for a broad range of identification purposes. Large amounts of personal data such as name, birth date, place of birth, gender, eye color, height, current address, photograph, and other information is linked to this ID number and stored in a centralized database. In many countries, such as Argentina, national ID regimes are adopted during military or authoritarian regimes …. Mandatory national ID cards violate essential civil liberties. They increase the power of authorities to reduce your freedoms to those granted by the card. If a national ID is required for employment, you could be fired and your employer fined if you fail to present your papers. People without ID cards can be denied the right to purchase property, open a bank account or receive government benefits. National identity systems present difficult choices about who can request to see an ID card and for what purpose. Mandatory IDs significantly expand police powers. Police with the authority to demand ID is invariably granted the power to detain people who cannot produce one. Many countries lack legal safeguards to prevent abuse of this power.”
It seems like the Israeli Interior ministry has finally succeeded in launching precisely such a dangerous project under the guise of a “voluntary pilot”. This controversial project has been aggressively promoted for years by the ‘Kadima’ party which reflects the pure essence of technocratic Fascism, despite its long years in the opposition, suggesting a rigged game between ‘Kadima’ and the ruling Likud coalition which granted its silent support to the program. Apparently the “voluntary” aspect is a fraud because the program actually pressures citizens by only issuing smart ID cards [necessary for entry to certain foreign countries] to those who opt into the biometric pilot program. The biometric database project has drawn criticism from both left wing factions and the Liberty faction in the Likud [aka The ‘Jewish Leadership’ faction], on the grounds of protecting civil liberties from corporate and government abuse. It remains to be seen if these critics will be able to fend off this Orwellian nightmare and abort the biometric database at the cradle.
After years of public controversy, the Interior Ministry will run a pilot of the biometric database in Rishon Letzion on Monday afternoon, the ministry announced Sunday.
The pilot will take place from 12:30 to 2:30pm at the Interior Ministry building in Rishon Letzion, where citizens coming to renew or receive a new identification card will have the option of signing up for a new biometric version or the traditional blue identification card.
Civil rights groups and data security campaigners have long criticized the database, saying that it would provide an unprecedented platform for running surveillance on private citizens, as well as a threat of security breaches and data leaks.
Former Likud MK Michael Eitan said in response to the news that the biometric pilot is “a battle for the image of the state of Israel. Will we be a free country which protects the rights of its citizens, an enlightened state, or one that leads the world in surveillance of its own citizens?” In July 2012, the High Court of Justice held a hearing during which the Interior Ministry agreed to review the biometric cards proposal, following a petition by civil rights groups and data security campaigners. Petitioners, including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Movement for Digital Rights said the plan had intentionally left out alternatives to the database, adding that the ministry should examine if there are other feasible options that would not be subject to the same threats of data leaks or information theft.
The biometric database program was first approved by the Knesset in 2009 and in June 2011, the Knesset Science and Technology Committee approved the ordinances needed to establish the database. Responding to the announcement, ACRI said that it “objects to the biometric database because it is not a necessary aspect of a ‘smart’ identification system – even one that includes biometric data – but rather a repository of citizens’ physiological data, vulnerable to both government abuse and outside infiltration (as recent developments have shown).” An ACRI spokesman added that, “In fact the Ministry of the Interior has delayed the issuance of smart IDs since 2007 in order to combine the process with the creation of a biometric database.” While ACRI took some credit for having pushed the state to make improvements over the years from a security perspective, it said that the program still “strikes a serious blow to citizens’ privacy and completely undermines the balance of power between the state and its citizens.” ACRI also noted despite being called ‘voluntary,’ the program “actually pressures citizens by only issuing smart ID cards to those who opt into the biometric pilot program.”