Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Uncategorized

Israel Is Now Tracking Coronavirus Patients Using Their Smartphones

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.On Wednesday evening, 400 Israeli citizens received a text message that read: “According to epidemiological research, you were close to a coronavirus carrier. You must go into isolation.” These Orwellian messages were the first use of a new digital surveillance system the Israeli…

Israel Is Now Tracking Coronavirus Patients Using Their Smartphones

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.

On Wednesday evening, 400 Israeli citizens received a text message that read: “According to epidemiological research, you were close to a coronavirus carrier. You must go into isolation.”

These Orwellian messages were the first use of a new digital surveillance system the Israeli government has implemented to try and curb the spread of coronavirus. But it has done so without any parliamentary oversight, and the system’s legality is already being challenged in court.

Israel has reported a significant spike in cases in recent days, with a total of 529 cases now confirmed — though it has yet to report any deaths from coronavirus.

“In order to make the process of conducting an epidemiological investigation more efficient, to shorten the process and accurately reach those who were in contact with a coronavirus carrier, we are starting to use technological tools,” the Health Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

But the term “technological tools” significantly underplays the powerful system that Israel’s security services now have at their disposal, a tool which critics say will erode citizens’ right to privacy. Israel joins a growing list of countries, including China and Iran, that are using the coronavirus crisis as cover to increase surveillance of their citizens.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the transitional government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unanimously approved emergency regulations to enable the General Security Services and the police to gather location data from the cell phones of people who test positive for coronavirus or are suspected of being infected.

The cellular data allows the security service to retrace the movements of those people and track anyone they have come within six feet of for more than ten minutes. Those who have come in contact with a confirmed or suspected coronavirus patient are sent a text message telling them to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The new regulations remove the need for judicial approval to use the existing law, which was previously used for counterterrorism efforts.

READ: Iran launched an app that claimed to diagnose coronavirus. Instead, it collected location data on millions of people.

“In the message, they were informed of the date that they were near the sick person and the fact that they must enter [14 day] home-quarantine immediately,” the Health Ministry said after the first wave of messages were sent out on Wednesday.

Page 1 of 2
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2020 Tribune Media LLC