Top court in Israel asked government to legislate phone tracking policies

The Supreme Court in Israel on Sunday urged the government to make appropriate legislation around its use of tracking people’s mobile phones, worrying privacy issues arising out of measures taken by the government to fight the coronovirus pandemic. 

Last month, cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, without passing it through parliament, has given an approval of emergency rules which allowed country’s internal security service Shin Bet to get a hold of cellular data to sketch out the movements of virus-infected people.

Phone tracking technology has usually been used for anti-terrorism, but its use by the Health Ministry in fight against the coronavirus by collecting and using the data to issue warning or even precautionary alerts to the people who remain in the vicinity of infected people. After the court’s decision that practice of tapping phones is now to remain under parliamentary monitoring.

Several Israeli right groups filed petitions against the government’s use of tracking technology for having concerns about privacy of the people. The Supreme Court recognizing the nature of complaints asked the government that if it wants to go on with tracking people mobile phones in its efforts to stop the spread of virus then it must start a legislative process by April 30 and conclude it within few week passing appropriate laws.

The government’s decision of using state’s security service for monitoring those people who are not against such actions or authorities for the good, but doing so without having consent creates many hurdles and to overcome that issue a suitable alternative solution must be formed which should be working keeping the privacy of people under consideration, said the court in its ruling.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) was also among those petitioners and to the court decision the association called it a victory.