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Israel legalises police use of facial recognition technology

September 19, 2023 at 10:53 am

A surveillance camera is pictured at a checkpoint in the flashpoint Palestinian city of Hebron on November 9, 2021 [HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]

An Israeli ministerial panel yesterday backed a government-sponsored bill to legalise police use of facial recognition cameras placed in public spaces across Israel, the Times of Israel reported.

The bill, backed by Justice Minister Yariv Levin and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, legalises the use of this technology to allegedly tackle crime in Arab communities.

However, critics say it lacks sufficiently clear oversight, especially in light of recent alleged police misuse of other advanced tools.

Sources said that the bill was rushed into a special session of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, where it was the only item on the agenda, to prepare it for a special session of the Knesset to be held before the return from recess on 15 October.

Formal backing from the Ministerial Committee on Legislation eases a bill’s passage through the Knesset.

This year over 170 Arab citizens have been murdered nationwide amid an unprecedented violent crime wave. The crisis highlights decades of discrimination and neglect by Israeli authorities who stand accused of abdicating their responsibility as the violence reaches record levels.

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