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July 8, 2013 12:05 pm

Israel Interior Ministry Introduces Biometric ID Cards

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Kikar HaMeyasdim, Rishon LeZion, Israel. Photo: Wikipedia, MathKnight

Kikar HaMeyasdim, Rishon LeZion, Israel. Photo: Wikipedia, MathKnight

Israel’s Interior Ministry today launched a two-year pilot program, beginning in the country’s fourth largest city Rishon LeZion, to construct a biometric database and issue corresponding ID cards to Israelis living in several cities.

The credit card-sized ID contains a computer-generated facial image, rather than a traditional photo, and fingerprints of both index fingers.

Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar said the program was created to help stem the theft of 160,000 traditional IDs in Israel each year as part of criminal activity and identity fraud.

Responding to concerns of citizens over the government collecting too much information, the Minister said the information on the smart cards is less than what Israelis provide US customs upon entering the country – all 10 fingerprints.

According to Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, Israelis against the plan say it could lead to an abuse of personal information and the database would be ripe for leaks. Debate over the plan has been constant since the idea was first floated in 2008. The project was approved by the Knesset in December, 2009.

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