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Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation Authorizes Police Use of Facial Recognition Technology

Publications / May 30, 2022

Written by Haim Ravia and Dotan Hammer

The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill memorandum amending the Police Ordinance, which authorizes the Israel Police to deploy stationary and portable cameras enabling the identification of individuals in real time. The memorandum also authorizes the Police to transfer data from the cameras to the Israeli Security Agency (known as “Shabak”), the Military Intelligence Directorate, and other public bodies.

The memorandum applies to “special photography systems”, which are systems with the capability of focusing on objects or subjects with biometric features, photographing them, and comparing them to images found in a database.

The highly controversial “Hawk Eye” system, which was used by Police unlawfully so far, is one type of a “special photography system”. It includes a network of smart cameras deployed on interurban roads in Israel, capable of identifying license plates and passengers and drivers in vehicles.

The committee approved the bill memorandum despite the dissenting opinions of the Israeli Privacy Protection Authority and the National Cyber Directorate. Both agencies oppose the use of facial recognition technology in public areas, particularly by the police.

CLICK HERE to read the Bill Memorandum Amending the Police Ordinance (Special Photography System) 5772-2022 (in Hebrew).

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