Following a lengthy debate, and after numerous reservations were rejected, the Knesset has voted to establish a temporary three-week arrangement which authorizes the Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) to use mobile phone data to track people infected by the coronavirus.
The bill, whose validity will expire on July 22, 2020, aims to help the Health Ministry in its efforts to contain the pandemic and block the chain of infection. The temporary arrangement was separated from a comprehensive arrangement that will be discussed in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee over the next three weeks, with the intent to pass primary legislation on the matter.
The bill authorizes the Shin Bet to assist in specific and unique cases in which an epidemiological investigation cannot be completed otherwise. During this period, the Health Ministry is authorized to activate Shin Bet surveillance either for a specific infected person, who the Health Ministry is having difficulty tracking, or for broader use any time that the number of infections the day before rose to at least 200 people.
The bill also determines that a ministerial committee will be set up to constantly asses the need for Shin Bet phone tracking, based on the morbidity rate and the Shin Bet’s contribution to decreasing the morbidity rate, while taking into consideration the right to privacy.