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Government Privacy

Israeli Knesset Approves Biometric Database Law 303

Posted by timothy
from the and-who-will-you-be-visiting? dept.
Lord Duran writes "The Israeli Knesset approved a bill that will require every Israeli citizen to submit a visual scan of their face and a biometric scan of their fingerprints to a national database. I, for one, fail to see how this is anything but evil. TFA mentions the Israeli census was breached — I'd like to point out, for comparison, that it's still freely available on your peer-to-peer file sharing network of choice."
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Israeli Knesset Approves Biometric Database Law

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  • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:26AM (#30365656)
    ...except without the mark!

    Oh, wait, that's New Testament anyways, isn't it? Nevermind...

    • But it's still evil. I always tell rednecks :

      Israel is one of the very few countries in the world with significant terrorism problems. If Israel doesn't need some security measure, we sure as hell don't need it.

      So Israel agreeing to buy American tech with America's aid money to keep American politicians happy hurts my argument. :(

  • Good quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:27AM (#30365666)

    FTA: "...that the system would be kept as confidential as any banking website"

    Why does that not make me feel better about this?

  • by harl (84412) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:27AM (#30365674)

    Same problem with all biometrics.

    What happens when the system is compromised? How do I change my password?

    • by daid303 (843777) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:31AM (#30365734)

      How do I change my password?

      Knifes and fire work.

    • Like this [slashdot.org]

      • by harl (84412)

        That method has a finite number of possible passwords. Prolongs the time until failure state but does not prevent failure state.

    • by NoYob (1630681) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:40AM (#30365852)

      Same problem with all biometrics.

      What happens when the system is compromised? How do I change my password?

      Or worse, what if Osama Bin Laden (or any other terorist) get's to insert his bio information into an Israeli citizen's profile? Now, Bin Laden has a valid Bio-Informatic ID in Israel. If he shaved off his beard, I couldn't tell him apart. It's been years since I've seen a photo of him. He'd get away with being Bernie Horowitz.

      • by VShael (62735) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:42AM (#30365882) Journal

        Bizarrely, I think he'd rather die than pass himself off as a Jew. Or shave his beard.

        • by NoYob (1630681)
          Consider this - for those of you modded parent "Troll" or "Funny":

          Bin Laden, is what Donald Trump calls "a member of the lucky sperm club" (Trump himself is a member) - someone who was born into a very rich family. Now, I don't know about you folks, but if I were born into a rich family I'd get into the family business, become a full-time Linux hacker, do charity work - like help Palesinians maybe?, or even try being a jet set playboy. NOT killing civilians to get the Satan out of the Holy Land.

          Bin Laden is

          • by furball (2853)

            For a guy who can't think clearly his campaign of terror is a masterwork of insurgency we have a problem defeating.

        • by MiniMike (234881)
          I'd also rather Bin Laden die bizarrely than pass himself off as a Jew, or as anybody else.

          Or shave his beard.

          Not as sure about this, as it would destroy a small but thriving ecosystem without any benefit.

      • That's because he's dead [youtube.com]. So is she, probably for saying it.
    • What happens when the system is compromised? How do I change my password?

      You don't. You get that face changing surgery and spend the rest of your life looking like John Travolta or Nicolas Cage.

    • by mea37 (1201159)

      Depends how the information is to be used. I don't have, and never had, any input into the information on my passport, so how do I "change my password" when it comes to my passport?

      Someone could misuse the ubiquity of this information by trying to make it a "password"; and if so, that's a technical flaw in their security. As for the ID database program in general, the obvious flaws are based in privacy, not technology.

      • by harl (84412)

        I don't understand the problem. What info are you looking to put on your passport? You want to change your birthday? Your location of birth? You get to select the picture. You can change your name. There's no other information on there.

        Regardless passports can be rendered invalid and reissued. How do you do that with bone structure?

    • by timeOday (582209)

      How do I change my password?

      Identification isn't the same thing as a password; not being able to make up new identities willy-nilly is the whole point.

      • by harl (84412)

        You use different words but the problem is still the same. I'll speak in generic terms.

        What happens when the system is compromised and someone else can identify as me? How do I again secure my identity? What do I change? How do I change it?

        • by dkf (304284)

          You use different words but the problem is still the same. I'll speak in generic terms.

          What happens when the system is compromised and someone else can identify as me? How do I again secure my identity? What do I change? How do I change it?

          What happens if someone breaks into the database and swaps around the biometric parts of the records for politicians and known terrorists?

          • by harl (84412)

            The visual scan won't match.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by sakdoctor (1087155)

            ...looked from politician to terrorist, and from terrorist to politician, and from politician to terrorist again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    • What happens when the system is compromised? How do I change my password?

      Well, you look nervous. Is it the scars? You want to know how I got 'em?

  • Every ID card? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheMeuge (645043) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:29AM (#30365680)

    What is a "biometric visual scan of their face"? A photograph?

    Every country does that. It's called an ID card. As far as fingerprints, I've had to submit my fingerprints like 10 times for various services, clearances, not to mention immigration documents.

    This isn't really news. Even if it's a 3D laser-scan, that's really not different from a photograph nowadays.

    As much as it bothers me to have centralized databases of ANYTHING, if there is anything that needs a centralized database, it's identification. I'm a privacy freak and I am not sure that this bothers me, especially in the context of a country that can claim the dubious honor of being the most likely terrorist target in the industrialized world.

    • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:40AM (#30365848)

      What is a "biometric visual scan of their face"?

      I heard the "Hot Or Not" website folks are consulting.

    • Well, the process would condition the population to accept any invasive procedure. Maybe that is the plan. This is what decades of living in fear will do to a population. The more the citizens are afraid, the more power they give to the government. Why would a government make peace under such circumstances?
      • by mpe (36238)
        This is what decades of living in fear will do to a population.

        But most people don't deliberatly choose to go and live in a warzone.
      • Re:Every ID card? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by derGoldstein (1494129) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @03:55PM (#30369448) Homepage

        This is what decades of living in fear will do to a population. The more the citizens are afraid, the more power they give to the government.

        Hi, I'm an Israeli. I'm not sure about that last bit about "Why would a government make peace under such circumstances?", since that's a separate and extremely involved issue, but you got it right with the above quote. Most of the people I've talked to didn't even twitch at the mention of the new biometric database. News sources who are pointing to this as a very big exception compared other countries are met with feedback comprising of, mostly, "so what?" (when I say feedback I mean on online news sites, talkbacks and the like).

        We're used to armed guards at every publicly accessible building, which includes malls, theaters, larger apartment complexes, and of course any government-run institutions. A big part of the police's job here is patrolling in search of signs of terrorism, not crime. We've sat in too many shelters, heard too many missile alarms go off, and seen too many scorched remains of explosions to give a damn about a photo and a fingerprint.

        And yes, the Israeli census has been hacked -- not once, but several times. You can search and find several versions according to the date of retrieval.
        Personally, I agree with most of the opinions I've head voiced around me -- who cares? Anyone can find my address, phone number, and family tree through the leaked census. Now they'll have my picture, which they could easily find elsewhere, and my fingerprint, which is something that they'll have of every citizen. If they do use the fingerprint to try to access something, they'll likely need additional information, because it will be *known* that this has become publicly available information.

        There's a proverb in some european languages which translates roughly as: "you don't worry about a thief in the backyard when your house in on fire".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Hi, I'm also an Israeli.

          This law is "risky, superfluous, and expensive" and your apathy (and the apathy of all others with the same "don't care" attitude around you) saddens me deeply.

          The argument Israel never regarded my personal information with care, so who cares if I give it some more to play around with carelessly is a really stupid argument. The premise of that argument should lead you to the opposite conclusion. You should worry more when such a careless regime asks for more power from the citizens i

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by VShael (62735)

          There's a proverb in some european languages which translates roughly as: "you don't worry about a thief in the backyard when your house in on fire".

          Very true. But a neighbour may worry about both the thief in his neighbours yard, and the fact that his neighbours house is on fire.

          This massive biometric database sets a bad precedent which will no doubt be followed by other countries, who will point to Israel and say "See? No one in Israel is complaining about it."

          Sometimes, I think all of our countries are i

    • by mea37 (1201159)

      Not sure what the face scan is; I'd guess it's somehow meant to be more computer-readable than a typical photo, but who knows.

      I don't think capturing the data and putting it on the card is so much the problem, as keeping it in a central database.

      Also, having a mandatory national ID is a bit much.

      You've asserted that identify is one thing that needs a central database. Maybe that's true or maybe it's not, but if you accept it as a premise then you are not a "privacy freak".

    • by BobMcD (601576)

      As much as it bothers me to have centralized databases of ANYTHING, if there is anything that needs a centralized database, it's identification. I'm a privacy freak and I am not sure that this bothers me, especially in the context of a country that can claim the dubious honor of being the most likely terrorist target in the industrialized world.

      Why?

      Under what circumstances would a "SELECT * from PEOPLE where EYES = 'blue'" actually lower terrorism target vectors?

      "Show me your papers" has worked just fine for every repressive regime to date. I fail to see any need to centralize this information, particularly when you can attach arbitrary penalties to lack of said ID. So it isn't as if ID will magically become unnecessary. You'll still have to have it, and it will still get used. And this data will ALSO get used. Now we get to ask, in what way?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dkf (304284)

      What is a "biometric visual scan of their face"? A photograph?

      Every country does that.

      No, they don't. Yet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ovanklot (715633)

      What is a "biometric visual scan of their face"? A photograph?

      It is the mathematical function that identifies your facial features as your own to a very high degree of probability.

      Every country does that. It's called an ID card. As far as fingerprints, I've had to submit my fingerprints like 10 times for various services, clearances, not to mention immigration documents.

      Your fingerprints are not in one big database that can be hacked (as others have been hacked before) along with the rest of your entire country. If you've given your fingerprints 10 times, I hope you're sure you gave them to people who can keep them a secret. You can't really change them later.

      As much as it bothers me to have centralized databases of ANYTHING, if there is anything that needs a centralized database, it's identification. I'm a privacy freak and I am not sure that this bothers me, especially in the context of a country that can claim the dubious honor of being the most likely terrorist target in the industrialized world.

      Think of someone using this database, along with live CCTV footage from a railway station (say, a p

      • Your fingerprints are not in one big database that can be hacked (as others have been hacked before) along with the rest of your entire country.

        (I'm not GP but) I visited U.S., so yeah, I'm pretty sure that my fingerprints are in one big database. And, remembering Gary McKinnon, I would very much expect that said database can be hacked.

    • by harl (84412)

      What is a "biometric visual scan of their face"? A photograph?

      Something that doesn't exist in the article. A quote you are making up.

      The two items being stored are a visual scan and fingerprints.

  • by Richard W.M. Jones (591125) <rich AT annexia DOT org> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:29AM (#30365682) Homepage
    All citizens of a country which isn't exactly liked by its neighbours are placed on a single database. Database leaks. Any future authority which doesn't like Israelis for any reason can now reliably identify them at crossing points, when travelling, after an invasion, etc.
    • The only reason for not being identifiable is because you're dead. Lets make identifying the remains easier.

      The rest is conjecture and lies people tell each other.

      Personally, I'd like to have offensive weapons keyed into the biometrics of the person they're meant for so they wouldn't kill me. A smart gun that would only shoot the person its supposed to.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by poetmatt (793785)

      In case you're wondering, this isn't a whole lot different than a driver's license database. There are *some*, but the wording is slashdot hype here.

      • You are right, it is only a step beyond a driver's license database - which is a bad idea to begin with. When the US introduced a national driver's license database with the REAL ID Act, the reaction here was just as negative, so don't pretend that we are being hypocritical.

        Speaking of which, starting January first I have to get a passport to travel within the US (by plane), because my state has not yet met the requirements of the REAL ID Act (and good for them even if it was for the wrong reasons). If the

        • by poetmatt (793785)

          Real ID was stupid, and was also not the same as the driver's license database which we already had for years. So I don't know where you're coming from on all that.

    • by SharpFang (651121)

      Just imagine if IIWW started now.
      The database would be the first thing Nazis would get.

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:31AM (#30365722)
    We can construct a topic that will generate the lowest signal to noise ratio EVER! Proceed, gentlemen, proceed!
  • When I was born (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JerryLove (1158461) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:45AM (#30365932)

    When I was born, my foot prints were put on the birth certificate, which is on file, for identification (my social security card validates against it). When I got my state ID, that had my picture. When I got my SBU clearance, my fingerprints and photo went on record.

    It seems to me that the line in question is fictitious. The only question is the efficiency of the ID method, and the security of the database.

    • by BobMcD (601576)

      ...and the need to centralize it.

      Having to go to the agency in question and file a request adds a barrier to the data that hopefully means it is only accessed when it is actually required. Having it all 'at your fingertips' means lots of unnecessary and/or unwanted access, at least potentially.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The most disturbing thing about all this is how readily people in the "civilized" world continue to simply submit to this sort of nonsense and view it as an acceptable part of living.

  • ... for you see, Revelations isn't a chapter in the Torah.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Every country strikes its between the privacy of its citizens and the security of its citizens. In Israel, due to its circumstances, the balance is more heavily tilted toward security over privacy. In every country of which I am aware, military service involves sacrificing some level of freedom and privacy. In Israel, almost every non-Arab citizen of the country serves in the army, and of course that service requires photographs, fingerprints, DNA sampling, etc. already. So this is not much different th

    • by mpe (36238)
      Every country strikes its between the privacy of its citizens and the security of its citizens.

      This argument is very much a false dichotomy. Things which erode privacy may have little or no effect on security, even decrease. Things which affect secuirty need have nothing to do with privacy.
  • Godwin's Law? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Comatose51 (687974) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:08PM (#30366266) Homepage
    There's a bit of irony here because a little man in Germany fifty years ago did something very similar in categorizing and identifying Jews. It was not benign.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MiniMike (234881)

      a little man in Germany fifty years ago did something very similar

      You're posting from 1987? And not claiming first post?

      Since you have 22 years to think about it, please elaborate on how signing people up for drivers licenses and passports is similar to burning and looting their property, murdering them in the streets, and then rounding up the rest and sending them to concentration camps? I don't think that's what the Israeli government plans. If you don't like biometric databases that's fine, but at least add something intelligent to the discussion.

      • a little man in Germany fifty years ago did something very similar

        You're posting from 1987? And not claiming first post?

        Since you have 22 years to think about it, please elaborate on how signing people up for drivers licenses and passports is similar to burning and looting their property, murdering them in the streets, and then rounding up the rest and sending them to concentration camps? I don't think that's what the Israeli government plans. If you don't like biometric databases that's fine, but at least add something intelligent to the discussion.

        Good point. The funny thing is that if we consider the greater context, that's pretty much exactly what that particular government does to a certain segment of the population.

    • by furball (2853)

      This database isn't a database of Jews. This is a database of Israeli citizens. Some of whom are actually Arabs.

    • by Myopic (18616)

      Yes! And Hitler was also elected in a democracy -- SO WE MUST DO AWAY WITH ALL DEMOCRACY!

  • I, for one, fail to see how this is anything but evil.

    We may argue, whether this will work or not, but why is it "evil"? Is it the fear, the impersonators will now be ripping faces off people to pretend to be them?

    • Same thoughts here. Your face is already effectively "public" - it's very easy to obtain and store, without you knowing. Fingerprints are only slightly more difficult (not to obtain, but to match with the person). If anyone wants such a database, they can have it already. In fact, I would be extremely surprised if special services of most industrial countries didn't have such databases already, with coverage way above 50% in the First World. If they don't, I dare say they aren't doing their job.

      Making this

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swordgeek (112599)

      All citizens must be known to the government at all times.
      This leads to all citizens must be forced to carry identification at all times. Biometrics is a short-circuit around forcing people to carry ID papers 24/7. At present, I can walk out of the house without my wallet, and nobody can identify me without my permission. Not so with biometrics.

      More to the point, it's a way of monitoring the populace. It assumes that everyone is a latent criminal, and needs to be watched.

      And hey--what if they decide that ra

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