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03 October, 2023
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Israel: Intelligence Service to monitor Omicron infected citizens' phones

Move to track their contacts

Kathimerini Greece Newsroom

The Israeli intelligence service has a temporary license to access the data of citizens' telephones that are confirmed cases of the variant strain Omicron, in order to track their contacts. The service had been given similar powers during the first waves of the pandemic in the country.

Activating the emergency law framework, the Israeli cabinet on Sunday voted in favor of licensing intelligence service Shin Bet to monitor Omicron patient phone data until the end of the day on Thursday.

"We have indeed reached a point where we need a 'Big Brother' who has information about where we are going," --Limor Yehuda

The Israeli parliament is expected to pass a new law this week, extending the license by another two weeks, allowing it to be renewed every two weeks, according to a spokesman for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

The government and its supporters said the decision was necessary to quickly identify potential carriers of the virus that would need to be tested and quarantined to limit the spread of the new strain.

"We have indeed reached a point where we need a 'Big Brother' who has information about where we are going," said Limor Yehuda, a professor of criminology, in an article in a central newspaper.

Critics have said the move violates citizens' freedoms and runs counter to the Supreme Court ruling last March. The court had then ruled that the intelligence service would be able to use telephone data in this way only to monitor individuals who refused to comply with the prescribed tracking procedures.

"No other democracy has chosen to use its security services to track people down," said Gil Gan-Moore, a human rights lawyer. Renewing Shin Bet's licensing for surveillance was a "scary, illegal decision," he added.

[Source: New York Times]


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