Interior Minister Aryeh Deri published a memorandum on Thursday recommending that all Israeli citizens be required to obtain a biometric identity card, with personal details stored on a digital database.
In the next two weeks, citizens will be allowed to voice their comments on the new ID system, after which the bill will go to a ministerial committee. If approved, it will be put to a vote in the Knesset.
“The biometric database is crucial to prevent identity theft of Israeli citizens, and it is protected and secured at the highest level,” Deri said,
The biometric card is designed to digitally encode personal information, fingerprints, photo and facial profile. The data will be stored in a chip attached to the card, which will also contain other important details like a person’s name, gender and birth date. All information will be stored in a secured database.
The main purpose of the database, according to its advocates, is to prevent identity theft and to ensure that terrorists are unable to pass as Israelis and gain access to population centers to carry out attacks. The proposal was first touted in 2009 by then-interior minister Meir Sheetrit, and approved on condition that a two-year pilot be conducted first. The trial period began in 2013 but was extended.
In June of 2015, a petition signed by 74 academics at Israel’s universities called the database a “security threat” that is vulnerable to hacking and data leakage. They asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Knesset to back off the plan “before Israeli citizens and the country’s security are badly damaged.”
The cards are already available at local Interior Ministry offices throughout the country. Some 1.2 million Israelis have already volunteered for the program, which, in addition to the ID card, includes obtaining a “smart” passport.