All over the world, humans are observing social distancing and rightfully so. The only precaution that seems to work against the deadly pandemic is staying away from humans, but what if someone starts to feel the symptoms? Well, Israel has a solution. Their government is now tracking patients and their movements via mobile data to see how many people should be put into quarantine.
Source: NBC News
Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has made it legal for Shin Bet, the internal security agency to employ methods for using personal data. This has been done to make the patients of the virus known as soon as possible so they can be put into quarantine.
So basically whatever data Shin bet has obtained since 2002, they now have the authority to use it however they want for 30 days. If anyone has travelled abroad or displays signs due to some other reasons, the Israeli government will be able to record their movements.
They will then send the message to the affected person and ask them to observe measures prescribed by the WHO or CDC. Even though it is not clear exactly how much information Shin Bet has but according to The Times, tracing anyone’s location through the collected data is quite easy.
Prime Minister, Netanyahu made this announcement in his office in Jerusalem and said, “We must preserve the balance between individual rights and general needs, and we are doing so.” A security official who doesn’t wish to be named said that the information will be used for a “focused, time-limited and limited activity.”
Source: The Verge
While many people might consider this an effective measure, one cannot help but wonder how much information is collected by the government annually. This has raised a lot of questions regarding the ethical framework of cyber-surveillance.
The Prime Minister says that this type of technology was designed to keep a record of criminals and to monitor terrorism. For implementing this law, he bypassed the usual parliamentary procedure as the order was directly approved by attorney general Avichai Mandelblit.
“I refrained as prime minister from using these means among the civilian population until now, but there is no choice. We are waging a war that obligates using special means, and therefore I sought the approval of the Justice Ministry. This gives us a very effective tool”, he explained.
Well, it does violate the privacy of citizens, but as the situation surrounding the pandemic gets worse, it is highly unlikely that any organisation will question this move. Israel is not the first country to take such severe measures anyway.
In South Korea, a law that was amended in 2015 allows the health facilities to gather as much data regarding the citizens as they want. From credit card info to location, they can use anything to their advantage to control epidemic outbreak without even informing the citizens.
However, they have to notify the person they are tracking at some point.
After the “relevant tasks have been completed”, they are legally required to get rid of all the collected information but do they follow this practice or not still remains a question.