Israel just passed an emergency law that lets the authorities track the mobile phone data from the people who are infected by COVID-19.
According to the BBC, the emergency law was passed overnight and skipped parliamentary approval.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, announced the move in a Facebook post detailing the authorities’ next steps in stopping the Coronavirus pandemic, but he did expand on what this mobile phone tracking might entail.
“Today, we started using digital technology to locate people who have been in contact with those stricken by the Corona.
We will inform these people that they must go into quarantine for 14 days.
These are expected to be large – even very large – numbers and we will announce this in the coming days.
Going into quarantine will not be a recommendation but a requirement and we will enforce it without compromise.
This is a critical step in slowing the spread of the epidemic,” he said, prompting privacy and human rights advocates to raise their concerns about how this tracking might be applied.
For years, we have been warning that the declaration of a state of emergency, in effect since the establishment of the State, poses a serious danger to human rights and gives unlimited power to the government.— ACRI (@acri_online) March 16, 2020
While the measure implemented by Israel is being investigated in the US as well, civil rights advocates are concerned about this law, viewing it as a tool of mass surveillance that could lead to targeted containment and other potential abuses.