Following four days of extensive deliberations, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, headed by Lt.-Gen. (res.) MK Gabi Ashkenazi (Blue and White), decided on Wednesday not to advance legislation allowing police to use phone tracking technology to enforce stay-at-home orders for quarantined individuals.
The Criminal Procedure Bill (Enforcement Powers – Communication Data) (Temporary Order – Novel Corona Virus) (Receiving Location Data in Order to Oversee Compliance With Isolation Guidelines), 2020, would authorize Israel Police to access, without a warrant, the location data of civilians who are required to be in quarantine, meaning people who were found positive for Covid-19, were exposed to a diagnosed patients 14-days prior to their diagnosis, or have recently returned to Israel from abroad—sporadically in real-time without receiving historical location data.
The bill passed its first reading in the Knesset plenum last week, and the committee was preparing it for its second and third (final) readings.
Under the legislation, the person being surveilled will be selected randomly, the information will not be transmitted to the Ministry of Health, and the police will be required to report on this activity to the Attorney General and to the Knesset committees.
The committee’s decision not to advance the bill meant Israel Police was required to discontinue the practice Wednesday night, when temporary emergency regulations allowing the practice expired. The decision not to vote on the bill’s approval was made at the government’s request, this after the committee raised numerous reservations regarding the need to activate means that harm privacy in such a severe manner.
Police Maj.-Gen. Amnon Alkalay, head of Israel Police’s Operations Division, said that during police visits to the homes of people in isolation, there have been three cases in which verified sick persons violated the quarantine order. On Sunday, Chief Superintendent Aya Goretzky, legal advisor to Israel Police’s Investigations Division, told the committee that out of 3,000 sick persons, the police had visited 200, finding 181 were following quarantine rules and 19, or 9.5%, were violating the rules.