Israeli Government Pushes National Biometric Database With Claims Of Security Superiority Nobody Thinks Are True

from the painting-a-target dept

There has been something of a push in recent years in different countries to build biometric databases of varying degrees. These efforts are typically marred by pushback and controversy, with countries like Argentina using these databases in order to have law enforcement chill its citizenry from protests in the streets, with our very own FBI rolling out its own biometric database that lacked the promised privacy oversight with which it had been billed. Despite the fact that you can nearly set your watch to the speed with which such lists will be abused, these previous efforts at least paid lip-service to the notion that the databases would focus only on criminals in their respective countries.

That isn’t the case for the decree made by Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri about the plans for a new compulsory biometric database for all Israeli citizens.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri sparked controversy Wednesday when he announced that all Israelis must join the national biometric database. Deri said everyone would be required to upgrade their ID cards and passports to “smart cards” embedded with their personal biometric characteristics, including fingerprints. The pilot biometric database was launched about three years ago and caused a public uproar, with many said they would refuse to be included.

It’s amazing how things can change. The Israeli government really ought to know better than to create a database of its citizens. One might refer to it as a registration of Jewish people with the government, in a way. I seem to recall others in history creating lists of Jews and it didn’t work out all that well.

Now, nobody would suggest that the Israeli government would want to persecute its own people a la Nazi Germany. Nor do we need to Godwin ourselves in this post so readily. The problem is that creating this database is akin to painting a target on the backs of the Jewish people, a people already in the crosshairs of many of their neighbors. To this, Deri and his office have responded with claims of how necessary the database is and how sure they are that they can secure it against outside hacking by terrorist groups. Few are buying the latter claim.

The Digital Rights Movement, which has been waging a campaign against the database since its inception, announced that it will file a High Court of Justice petition against the move. The group has launched a crowdfunding campaign to finance the legal battle.

“Only in Israel will it become possible to collect the fingerprints of every citizen,” the group said in a statement. “Contrary to the opinions of 74 of the best information security and encryption experts in Israel, the interior minister is spinning a tall tale about how secure the database is and that it cannot be hacked — but he is wrong. It is not for nothing that 70% of the public has refused to be included in this database.”

Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler of the Israel Democracy Institute warned that “this is a problematic decision that subjects highly sensitive information to danger. Having any kind of biometric database endangers our privacy as a whole. Studies in Israel and abroad have proved unequivocally that such a database will be breached and that officials with access to it will abuse it.”

Whatever use law enforcement might have in such a database surely is mitigated by the potential danger from both outside groups getting access to it or by internal abuse within the Israeli government. As the quote aboves suggests, these sorts of lists are practically begging to be abused and/or targeted. Again, I would think the goverment of Israel would be especially sensitive to the dangers here. Its citizens certainly are.

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Comments on “Israeli Government Pushes National Biometric Database With Claims Of Security Superiority Nobody Thinks Are True”

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Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The local DMV won’t be anywhere near as secure as the Office of Personnel Management. You know, the folks whose data breach was reported last year. The identities, financial information, personal details and more, for millions of American government employees with security clearances, plus their relatives. 21.5 million people total. Details on which of them are in financial difficulty. Even 1.1 million fingerprints, making secret agents no longer safe even if their names are changed.

China (and whoever they trade the data to) now knows who they are, and the financial data narrows down who to target for recruitment. Cross-reference that with the 37 million registered users in the Ashley Madison leak and many more from gambling and porn sites, and the blackmail possibilities are endless.

And as you say, their fingerprints can be placed at any crime scene. A few years ago German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble was pushing for biometric identity cards. So Chaos Computer Club hackers lifted his fingerprints off a glass and published 10,000 copies of them on acetate (suitable for leaving fingerprints) as a magazine insert.

More recently they obtained the fingerprints of German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen, this time photographs including one gleaned from a press release issued by her own office.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you haven’t got a list then – when they come asking for it you can do what Mayor Loukás Karrer and Bishop Chrysostomos of Zakynthos did:

“Mayor Loukás Karrer and Bishop Chrysostomos refused Nazi orders to turn in a list of the members of the town’s Jewish community for deportation to the death camps. Instead they secreted the town’s 275 Jews in various rural villages and turned in a list that included only their own two names.”

That One Guy (profile) says:

A display of confidence

Here’s an idea(that would never be accepted for obvious reasons):

Anyone, person or group that proposes such a system is required to put all of their personal and private data in the database first for a period of no less than six months first, with the database using the exact same security measures that it would have normally, and the existence of the database and what it contains being made public at the start of the ‘demonstration period’.

If the ones pushing for such databases really want to reassure the public about how ‘secure’ they are they should have absolutely no problem putting their data on the line to do so, and any refusal should be taken as nothing less than an admission that while they are perfectly fine with putting the public’s safety and security on the line they don’t in fact think that the system is secure enough to protect their safety and security.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: A display of confidence

That’s actually not too big of a deal comparatively, as the most influential ‘drug’ for politicians, money, isn’t one that’s going to show up on a simply drug or booze test.

I would much rather a politician get smashed or high as a kite on a regular basis if that meant that they wouldn’t go looking for a ‘fix’ involving large amounts of cash and/or promised ‘retirement offers’ in order to screw over the public in a way beneficial to a private company or individual.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s not about persecuting the Jews. It’s about their continual illegal mistreatment of the Palestinians that landed all of Europe in a massive war when an Austrian guy did it to the ethnic minorities in Germany, but gets a free pass in Israel because of international oversensitivity to, well, them being the previous victims of tattooed ID numbers on their wrists.

Israel has overdrawn the Holocaust card too many times to get away with justifications for their disgusting behavior and now people are waking up. It’s not working anymore, and there’s going to be a swift and mighty backlash for their arrogance that will make them rue the day they didn’t just go to Madagascar and avoid all these problems in the first place.

The damnable, unconstitutional hypocrisy of the US and EU with their anti-BDS laws and inability to so much as broach the subject of the “special relationship,” deserves to be called out just the same. This is a particularly insular and arrogant group of people — not all of them, just the hypocritical ultra-nationalist paranoids pushing this crap — who is going to cry “remember the 60 billion” to no avail when, after being thrown out of more than 200 countries over the past five millennia, they get thrown out of “their own.” Prior instances of “bullying” are not an excuse to become a bigger bully yourself.

The legal fiction that is the “state of Israel” is a belligerent, unassimilable ethnic enclave, a would-be British colony, and an obsolete relic of WW2 that must be dissolved completely and returned to its persecuted inhabitants, or else face the consequences of the next world war. And this time, nobody in the goy countries is going to take on the poor wailing rabbis aboard the *St. Louis II.* No, not even Canada. AND NOT EVEN GERMANY.

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