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Shin Bet halts surveillance of coronavirus patients

With Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman reluctant and faced with public objections, the Israeli government has suspended consideration of a bill legalizing the electronic tracking of those infected with the novel coronavirus.
A mobile phone with HaMagen application on it is seen in this picture illustration taken on April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Nir Elias/Illustration - RC2PVF9RFE4T

Israel’s Shin Bet has reportedly suspended its monitoring of coronavirus carriers as of June 9. One day earlier, the cabinet put on hold a proposal to legalize the tapping of phones of infected citizens.

When the coronavirus crisis broke out last March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Shin Bet to assist the Health Ministry by surveilling the phones of those infected, ostensibly to notify citizens that were in contact with infected people that they need to be tested for the virus. But Netanyahu’s initiative sparked controversy, with human rights groups arguing it infringed on privacy rights. The High Court ruled against the continued surveillance without a law in place. Faced with growing objections, the government produced a bill that would offer the Shin Bet a clear legal framework in which to operate.

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