Amid growing concern about privacy breaches by online tools being used by the governments across the world, Israel's parliamentary panel on Tuesday authorised the country's Shin Bet security service to continue using mobile phone data to track people infected by the coronavirus until May 26. The decision came a day after the World Health Organisation (WHO) insisted that it believes all countries are dedicated to protecting the personal data of their citizens while using online tools, such as contact-tracing apps.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet in March approved emergency regulations that enabled use of technology in tracking coronavirus patients amid the global pandemic. The technology was earlier used in Israel only for anti-terrorism purposes. According to reports, data presented to parliament’s intelligence subcommittee on Tuesday said over 5,500 people out of the 16,200 COVID-19 infected patients in Israel were traced by Shin Bet security service using the online tool.
The Israeli government is expected to present a draft bill in parliament to regulate the use of surveillance tools by Shin Bet. As per reports, the bill will be open for public discussion before being submitted in the parliament for final approval. Supporters of the tool say that it is important more than ever now because the lockdown restrictions are slowly being lifted and it will help the government track violators. The opposition though has a different argument as they believe the infection rate in the country is dropping drastically and it is just a misuse of the tool with some even comparing the measure used by dictatorships such as North Korea.
According to data by worldometer, Israel has recorded over 16,200 coronavirus cases so far, of which 238 people have lost their lives. There are currently 5,586 active infections in the country, while 10,465 have been treated successfully. The recovery rate in Israel is going up slowly, while the mortality rate is dropping day by day.
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