Wigs. Required by Halacha
Photo: Yisrael Bardugo
Zevulun Orlev
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Will biometric database compromise modesty?

Controversial bill faces new opposition, this time by religious elements fearing observant women would be compelled to remove headdress in order to be scanned into database

The biometric database finds another adversary: New opposition to the biometric database bill had formed recently, this time from religious elements.


The biometric database bill, which passed its first Knesset reading in October, suggests the use of smart IDs and passports, based on fingerprints and visual scans in order to prevent forgery of state documents.


The controversial decision has so far encountered vast opposition from many Knesset members, human right groups and even the Public Defender's Office, as all claim it would be detrimental to the citizens' right to privacy and as such, it has no place in a democracy.


Related stories:


The main concern expressed by religious elements is that the database's requirements may infringe on women's modesty.


Knesset Member Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) asked the Knesset's Science and Technology Committee to review the proposed requirements in order to prevent a situation in which observant women would be obligated to remove their headdress, which is forbidden according to the Halacha, in order to be scanned into the system.


Article 34 of the bill – "Operational procedures, guidelines and regulations" – notes that the interior minister would be endorsed by the future ministerial committee for biometric applications and the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee to decide on the manner in which biometric data would be collected from the general population, and would have sole discretion as to the manner in which the information is taken from minors, the elderly and the handicapped.


One of the article's subsection notes that as far as Muslim and Druze women are concerned the data would be collected "with consideration and respect to religious and traditional customs," but it makes no similar notation about Jewish women.


In a letter to MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima), who heads the Science and Technology Committee, Orlev writes that "Article 34a may infringe on religious sentiments and may even cause a breach of halachic rule, which requires women… to wear a headdress at all times.


"The law must avoid a situation in which a woman in forced to remove her headdress for the sake of the identifying procedure," he wrote.


פרסום ראשון: 07.27.09, 10:46
 new comment
This will delete your current comment