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Electronic fingerprinting

There has been significant progress on the way to a visa waiver for Israelis who wish to enter the United States, as Israel is now willing to breach its promise to its citizens and reach understandings with the Trump Administration over access to its fingerprint database, Channel 2 News reported.

In its promotion of the new, “biometric” ID cards and passports, Israel’s Interior Ministry asks: “Is keeping the biometric data in the database safe?” and answers: “According to the biometrics law, the biometric information will be stored in a dedicated database that will be managed by a separate authority – the Biometric Database Management Authority. The biometric information will be stored securely in the database, encrypted and separated from the Internet and from any other communications network and deleted from the Population and Migration Authority’s computers. The biometric database shall contain no identifying, biographical, or demographic details of the applicant.”


Finally, according to the Interior Ministry’s website: “In the duration of the test, the database will be used to verify the identity of the applicant, and will not transmit any information from it to any public entity.”

But, apparently, once the test is over, the same information is fair game.

The first meeting of the joint interministerial team of the Foreign Affairs, Justice and Prime Minister’s ministries was held on Monday, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), with a directive from Prime Minister Netanyahu to agree to a trade of visa waiver in return for access to the database, Channel 2 reported.

Israel’s Justice Ministry is in contact with the Trump Administration to negotiate American access to Israel’s fingerprint database, while “minimizing” the potential harm to the privacy of Israeli citizens. This last promise defies logic, since there is no way to moderate the effect of handing over one’s fingerprints, short of transferring only partial fingerprints, which would probably not meet US approval. In fact, at this stage it is clear that full access to the database is an American threshold prerequisite about which the US Administration will not compromise – requiring Israeli legislative changes that would take back all those promises about your confidential and secure information.

A US visa waiver would constitute a significant change for many Israelis, especially since it appears the new deal would include reducing the number of Israelis who have been refused entry for various reasons. So, the heck with government-guaranteed privacy – we’re going to Disneyland.


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