Reintroduced Covid-19 spying challenged in court — Analysis

Human rights groups in Israel have asked the supreme court to repeal the government’s decree reauthorizing the internal security service to spy on cell phones as part of a plan to stop the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, to use the phone-tracking technology initially developed for counter-terrorism purposes, as part of the measures announced Sunday aimed at preventing the new Omicron strain of the virus from spreading. Bennett closed Israel’s borders to foreigners for fourteen days.

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Four human rights groups petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice on Monday, challenging Bennett’s decision as “ill-fated and illegal” and in violation of the court’s earlier ruling. 

“The High Court ruled in April 2020 that the Shin Bet cannot be authorized to implement contact tracing via Emergency regulations or government decision, but must convene the Knesset [Israel’s parliament]Advance legislation. Thus resuming the program via emergency regulation is a blatant disregard for the rule of law,”The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, (ACRI), was one of those involved in the incident.

Furthermore, Shin Bet’s spying “violates the basic trust between the citizen and the government,”ACRI stated. ACRI stated that the program was authorized for the first time in March 2020 under Covid-19 emergency actions. However, it was rescinded by court. “no longer justifiable”This March

The surveillance technology matches the location of a person’s phone to others nearby to determine who may have come into close contact with a potential carrier of the virus. On Sunday, a Health Ministry official stated that the technology would be used. “surgical”Only confirmed carriers or suspects of Omicron are allowed to target them.

Israel now has two confirmed cases and ten additional suspected cases. The virus was discovered first in southern Africa. Although information is scarce, South Africa’s doctors and Botswana’s physicians have confirmed that the virus seems to be more easily transmissible than previous variants. However, it has only caused mild symptoms.

Bennett was given Tuesday by the Supreme Court to respond.



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