Phone tracking to be used to spy on those with omicron in Israel

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Israel’s top court has been petitioned by a rights groups to repeal new covid-19 measures that authorise the country’s domestic intelligence service to use counter-terrorism phone tracking technology to contain the spread of the Omicron virus variant.

Announcing the emergency measures Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the phone tracking would be used to locate carriers of the omicron variant to curb its transmission to others.

The petition against the proposal was filed by the Association for Human Rights in Israel, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights and Privacy Israel who say the emergency measures violate previous Supreme Court rulings over such surveillance, used on-and-off by the country’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency since March, 2020.

“Operation of the Secret Service to trace citizens violates the basic trust between the citizen and the government,” the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said in a statement.

More here and here.

The government rejected the petitioners’ claim that the renewed use of the Shin Bet geolocation tools violated the High Court’s previous ruling in the April 2020 petition on the matter.

A public opinion poll conducted by the Public Security Ministry in Israel found that 52% of Israelis in self-isolation agree to be digitally tracked (as a way to go out).

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