Media reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has authorized the country’s security agency Shin Bet to use mobile phone location data to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak caused by the new coronavirus. The New York Times notes that the data will be used to trace the movements of individuals who tested positive for the virus to identify and isolate potential close contacts. Over the next 30 days, the agency will have the right to call on the operator to collect the data.
(Screenshot via GPO)
The Government of Israel indicated that the isolation process could be greatly accelerated by sending timely text messages to close contacts.
Although the agency has not released exact data, experts told the New York Times that the government has the ability to track the location of almost every individual tested positive for the virus.
Announcing the plan at the presidential palace yesterday, Mr Netanyahu said: “We must strike a balance between the defence of individual rights and the need for consensus, and we are doing so now”.
A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Times that security agencies would use the data in a narrow manner, within a limited time and within limited time and activity.