- Title: Israel approves temporary cellphone tracking of COVID-19 carriers amid surge
- Date: 1st July 2020
- Summary: JERUSALEM (JULY 01, 2020) (REUTERS) VOTE ON BILL THAT ALLOW THE ISRAEL'S DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE AGENCY TO TRACK THE CELLPHONES OF CORONAVIRUS CARRIERS FOR THE NEXT THREE WEEKS SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT YARIV LEVIN ANNOUNCING THE BILL WAS PASSED KNESSET MEMBERS VOTING
- Embargoed: 15th July 2020 20:17
- Keywords: COVID-19 Coronavirus Israel Tel Aviv surveillance
- Location: TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
- City: TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
- Country: Jerusalem
- Reuters ID: LVA001CKZC6RR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Israel's parliament voted on Wednesday (July 1) to allow the country's domestic intelligence agency to track the cellphones of coronavirus carriers for the next three weeks amid a resurgence in new cases.
The Shin Bet surveillance technology has been used on and off to track carriers since March, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet circumvented parliament and approved the program through emergency regulations as new cases first spiked.
Those emergency measures drew challenges by privacy watchdog groups, and the Supreme Court cited worries over dangers to individual liberty in demanding Netanyahu's government regulate the surveillance through legislation.
The new law allows the Shin Bet to access carriers' phone location data for 14 days before they were diagnosed. That data is used to identify anyone they came into contact with, which proponents say is crucial to identify new cases.
The law, which expires on July 22, includes oversight mechanisms that require the Shin Bet to report weekly on its monitoring to parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.
The Shin Bet can be called upon to use the technology when new daily cases exceed 200 -- Tuesday's tally reached 773, a record high -- and to track specific patients who the health ministry cannot otherwise find, the law states.
Israel has reimposed some restrictions after seeing a surge in new cases since rolling back curbs enacted under a near-complete lockdown in March and April.
But it has not moved to reimpose nationwide lockdowns, with Finance Minister Israel Katz on Wednesday citing the economic pressures of prolonged closure in opposing such a step.
(Production: Suheir Sheikh)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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