Dec 2, 2008

Smart ID Comes To Israel

By Nathan Jones

Biometrics, as defined by, is "the use of special input devices to analyze some physical parameter assumed to be unique to an individual, in order to confirm their identity as part of an authentication procedure." It uses the "measuring and analysis of such physical attributes as facial features and voice or retinal scans. This technology can be used to define an individual's unique identity, often for security purposes."

If you've ever watched a spy movie and witnessed a laser scan a person's eye to allow them access through a secure door, scan a thumb to log into a computer, or use voice recognition to authorize the opening of a safe, then biometrics is familiar technology. It is also a technology that due to rising identity theft and easily forged paperwork is becoming less sci-fi and more frequently available. For these security devices to work, vast databases containing sensitive personal information about one's body are needed to compare the scans with the stored records.

What country is nationally adopting biometrics? reports in their article "Smart ID Project Underway" by Niv Lillian (Dec. 1, 2008) that Israel is nationally adopting biometrics. The Ministry of Interior has awarded Hewlett-Packard with the $67.49 million "smart ID card" contract, "allowing every Israeli citizen to perform a variety of online functions pertaining to government bureaus, including signing forms using a digital signature."

Israel is under constant security threat, and feels for good reason that they need to close the holes in their security. "Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit recently noted that there are an estimated 350,000 forged ID cards in Israel, calling the situation 'outrageous.'" To tighten security, the Knesset has taken the first step in making biometrics mandatory by okaying the controversial biometrics bill. Once passed, Israeli law will compel all of its citizens to make fingerprints available to government, or risk jail time.

Reactions to a new law requiring all Israelis to have biometric data on file have not been met without alarm. The bill was debated for a whole decade. Opponents of this new invasive security have expressed fears of what would happen if so much personal information fell into the wrong hands, especially foreign enemies' hands. Aryeh Bar, director-general of the Israeli Ministry of Interior, has tried to alleviate these fears, saying that "such a database is crucial, adding that the access to it would be restricted, that the data itself would be encrypted and it would be placed under the supervision of a special authority, as well as a ministerial committee."

Will other nations adopt biometrics?

The trend globally is moving towards stricter methods of security, which means more personally invasive requirements. With terrorism, rampant crime, ease of forgery, identity theft and the loosening of morality worldwide, we live in a world that is becoming increasingly insecure. To gain security, people are willing to give up their personal freedoms and anonymity. So yes, I think we can all see we're heading to eventual world-wide adoption of biometric security and databases filled with our private thumbprints and other personal information.

Is biometrics the "Mark of the Beast?"

People are generally fearful about any government having sensitive information about them. And rightly so, as anonymity is a form of personal security. But, have a discussion about technologies like the Real/Smart ID cards, chip implants, bar codes and biometrics and someone will immediately point to these technologies as being the "Mark of the Beast."

Firstly, what is the "Mark of the Beast?" The Book of Revelation explains a dark apocalyptic world of the future where a one-world leader will control his subjects by their economics. Revelation 13:16-18 (NIV) describes the scene: "He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666."

Those who take the Mark are allowed the ability to buy what they need, but those who don't accept the Mark are killed. Revelation 20:4 (NIV) describes how those who refuse are massacred: "And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands." But, to them is given the gift of life by Jesus Christ, for "they came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

Those who have accepted the Mark lose out in the end, though, for as Revelation 14:9-11 (NIV) describes, "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."

So, is the Mark of the Beast biometrics or any of these database-driven technologies? I would say based on the Revelation 13 description — No. These technologies certainly apply in making it possible to coerce the populace into accepting the Mark by controlling their purchasing, but the technology itself is not the Mark. The Mark looks like "the name of the beast or the number of his name," openly and visibly placed "on his right hand or on his forehead."

In its very essence, the Mark of the Beast is one's declaration of loyalty to this future world ruler, a ruler who serves Satan himself. By the time the Mark is given out midway through the upcoming 7-year Tribulation, the people in that time will know who they are truly serving. Will they serve Satan, or will they serve God? The choice will then be very plain to make. I pray that those who will live in that future time period will heed Revelation 14 and choose eternal life.