Israel to monitor virus patients’ phones

The Israeli Cabinet has authorised the Shin Bet security agency to use its phone-snooping tactics on coronavirus patients, despite concerns from civil-liberties advocates about privacy.

Netanyahu announced his plan in a televised address on Saturday, telling the nation that the drastic steps would protect the public’s health, though it would also “entail a certain degree of violation of privacy.”

Israel has identified more than 200 cases of the coronavirus. Based on interviews with these patients about their movements, health officials have put out public advisories ordering tens of thousands of people who may have come into contact with them into protective home quarantine.

The new plan would use mobile-phone tracking technology to give a far more precise history of an infected person’s movements before they were diagnosed and identify people who might have been exposed.

In his address, Netanyahu acknowledged the technology had never been used on civilians. But he said the unprecedented health threat posed by the virus justified its use.

Read the article by Josef Federman in The Advocate.