We Lost | Israel to launch the first Biometric Database

We lost the skyline. The parliament approved yesterday Meir Sheetrit‘s proposal to establish a biometric database. After a few months of delay, including endless discussions in parliament trying to persuade Sheetrit not to go with the database, we lost. It didn’t matter that we brought Two Nobel Prize Laureates and many other professors to explain the dangers, Sheetrit just explained that they don’t know a thing and that they do not represent the best minds in the field. It doesn’t matter that the Israeli census leaked or that the company who is meant to issue the biometric ID cards is the one who was in charge of the census: the Parliament Members just don’t get it.

CC-BY-SA Tomer Lichtash

A biometric database is not something to be taken lightly. While Sheetrit claims that other states have a biometric database, we know he lied. A research by Karine Barzilai-Nahon showed that a biometric database is something unprecedented in the entire world, at least if we think about biometric databases that are used with census data. Even that controversial Dutch database is not as extensive as the Israeli one. The UK ID initiative was not as comprehensive as ours, and yet was not as popular. When we try to understand where we went wrong, I think that it was the international aspect.

We blogged in Hebrew, twitted in Hebrew, interviewed in Hebrew and lobbied in Hebrew. The holy language was not as holy when it involved legislation. We can try the International human rights courts, we can try to petition to Israel’s supreme court, but nothing is as fine as international pressure. It didn’t even hit the international press, only our local Jewish Ghetto.

Now we have two years of an experiment. Let’s see how it goes.

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