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Israel Passes Emergency Law to Track and Trace Mobile Users With Suspected COVID-19

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Israel has passed emergency measures that will allow security agencies to track the smartphone data of people with suspected COVID-19 and find others they may have come into contact with (via BBC News).


The Israeli government said the new powers will be used to identify people infected with coronavirus and make sure they’re following quarantine rules.

On Monday, an Israeli parliamentary subcommittee discussed a government request to authorize the security service to assist in a national campaign to stop the spread of COVID-19, but the group decided to delay voting on the request, arguing that it needed more time to assess it.

The emergency law was passed on Tuesday during an overnight sitting of the cabinet, effectively bypassing parliamentary approval.

The government has yet to explain how the mobile tracking will work, but the BBC reports that it is understood the location data collected through telecommunication companies by Shin Bet, the domestic security agency, will be shared with health officials.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week announced his intention to bypass parliamentary oversight in order to push through the emergency regulations. Netanyahu says the new powers will last for 30 days only. Civil liberties campaigners in Israel called the move “a dangerous precedent and a slippery slope.”

Israel is still in the relatively early stages of the pandemic. It had 200 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, the country’s health ministry reported that cases had risen to 427.

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