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Israel tests biometric database

Fingerprint and facial scan pilot

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The Israeli Knesset has voted in favour of a bill for a compulsory biometric database of all citizens.

The Biometrics Database Law passed the Knesset 40 votes in favour to 11 against.

A big row over privacy forced the bill back to the drawing board. This led to the idea of a two-year trial rather than a full-blown introduction. Three months before the end of that period ministers will decide to adopt or ditch the technology.

For the first two years the scheme is voluntary. After that all citizens wanting an identification document will have their fingerprints taken along with a picture of their face. Electronic ID cards will contain a chip carrying two fingerprints and a digital picture.

Ex-interior minister Meir Sheetrit insisted the database would be safe "as any banking site" and the cards impossible to forge.

Sounding a bit Spinal Tap, he said: "If the databases of the Mossad, the Shin Bet and the Prime Minister's Office are currently protected at a level of 10, then this one will be protected at a level of 11."

He said there would be two databases - one containing names and one containing biometric identifiers, the Jerusalem Post reports. One member of the Knesset claimed he already had supposedly private information from a recent Israeli census which he'd found on the internet. ®

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