High Court Rules Shin Bet Surveillance Needs Legislation

israel coronavirus
Israeli walk at a shopping center in the city of Netanya, Sunday. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Israel’s High Court ruled on Sunday evening that in order for the government to extend authorization to the Shin Bet security service to continue its surveillance of coronavirus carriers, a law will have to be passed.

Over the past few weeks, the Shin Bet has worked with the Health Ministry to track the movement of corona patients through analysis of phone and credit card data. The technology has only been used in counter-terrorism operations until now, and its use on the general population was controversial from the outset due to concerns over potential abuses of citizens’ privacy.

The tracking, which uses cellphone location data, credit card purchase data and other digital information, aims to alert and order into quarantine people who were within two yards, for 10 minutes or more, of someone infected with the virus within the past two weeks.

Health Ministry officials have testified before the Knesset committee currently overseeing the government’s handling of the pandemic that the Shin Bet information has been extremely valuable in locating potential carriers of the virus.