Israeli law enforcement has supported a draft bill allowing facial recognition technology to be used in public spaces. 

If the bill becomes signed into law, it would allow Israeli law enforcement to use facial recognition systems in public places without needing a warrant. Additionally, they would be allowed to use facial recognition cameras to match people’s faces to the data stored in public databases.

The draft bill states that the proposed facial recognition systems would help “thwart offences that could harm a person’s well-being or security,” investigate criminal patterns, expose crimes and identifying suspects. 

Whilst the bill notes that the data collected by law enforcement will be protected, it does state that the data can be shared between other agencies.

The bill comes after the increasing criticism by Israel’s Supreme Court’s over the current use of surveillance system by the police. Currently, there is no law that governs its use, which the public security and justice ministries seek to change with the new legislation.

The bill states: “The arrangements proposed in the draft reflect the proper balance between protection of privacy and the public interest in preventing and uncovering crime, finding perpetrators and bringing them to justice, and preserving public order and security of persons and property.”

The draft bill has raised concerns with experts warning that the bill does not sufficiently address the issue of privacy and is extremely dangerous.

Attorney Anne Suciu, of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said: “it will allow the police to conduct mass surveillance of citizens, including biometric facial recognition. This law is a huge threat to the privacy of all of us and it give a free hand to the police to use the information it gathers by means of this technology without judicial oversight. We will not let this surveillance law pass.”

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