Police and Military Use of Facial Recognition Technology
On 21.9.2020, ACRI filed two petitions based on the Freedom of Information Law to the Court for Administrative Affairs in Jerusalem concerning the use of facial recognition technology. These petitions are the first in Israel regarding use of this technology.
Petition Against the Police
The petition was filed following the police overwhelmingly refusing to give ACRI all information regarding their use of facial recognition technology within Israel or in East Jerusalem, and furthermore refusing to admit or deny the very use of the technology.
In the petition, we emphasized the great potential for violation of the constitutional right to privacy, the right to liberty, and the ability of citizens to maintain anonymity in the public arena - especially when the use of this technology is not legislated and no part of it is transparent. We also emphasized the policing and disciplining effect of the use of the technology, which could cause a person to avoid various activities they are free to do, such as participating in protests or pride parades. We argued that the use of the technology without minimal transparency raises questions regarding the legality of its use and the lack of adherence to the rule of the law, and that the police’s refusal to share information stands in opposition to fundamentals of the Freedom of Information Law and its ruling.
Petition Against the Military
The petition was submitted after the military refused to reveal any information regarding the use of facial recognition technology in the Occupied Territories, under the pretense that revealing this information will endanger national security. This petition is similar in nature to the petition against the police as far as the demanded changes, but different in that the information demanded is under the jurisdiction of the military and those affected are Palestinians as well as Israelis living in the territory or passing through it. We argued that the technology endangers the basic rights of residents of the Occupied Territories, who enjoy the same right for protection against mass surveillance. We further argued that the claim that sharing this information is endangering national security is insufficient, and that the military must provide explanations and details as to why they are refusing to share details about their use of the technology.
On 2.2.21, we received a response from the military claiming that the information we requested falls into the category of security and intelligence information that need not be made public upon request, as stipulated by the Freedom of Information Act. What’s more, the military continues to attest that the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to activity in the Occupied Territories. ACRI will respond in a hearing set for May.
For further information (Hebrew)