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June 9, 2020 10:12 am

Shin Bet COVID-19 Surveillance Program Frozen, For Now

avatar by JNS.org

Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman. Photo: Niv Aharonson via Wikicommons.

JNS.org – The Ministerial Committee on Legislation in Israel’s Knesset approved a bill on Tuesday granting the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) authority to restart surveillance of known COVID-19 carriers at some point in the future if the government concludes it is necessary.

At the moment however, the government does not intend to present the bill to the Knesset. Instead, it will retain it for possible future use in the event of a second coronavirus wave and the possibility that it would become necessary for the Shin Bet to once again track carriers.

The bill was set in motion after the High Court of Justice said that it would not allow continued surveillance of citizens without proper legislation.

During a meeting on Monday of the ministerial committee in charge of Israel’s COVID-19 response, Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman said that the security organization does not feel comfortable using such methods, which it usually uses to track terrorists, to monitor civilians. However, he also noted that in the event of a second outbreak, the law could be passed quickly, and the security agency would be fully prepared to act accordingly.

Critics of the now-frozen legislation say that the benefits of tracking coronavirus carriers do not trump the privacy rights of civilians and therefore should not be implemented at all.

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