(April 30, 2020 / JNS) The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee approved on Thursday an extension of the Shin Bet phone-surveillance program, which will continue until next Tuesday at midnight, giving the government time to decide if it wants to legislate the program.
Earlier in the week, Israel’s High Court ruled that the program, which was approved mid-March as a way to track coronavirus carriers, must end unless a law is made to extend it and provide Knesset oversight.
According to Israeli media reports, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be heading a meeting on Sunday to decide whether or not to legislate the program or immediately discontinue it. Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri told the Knesset committee that Netanyahu has not yet made a decision on the program’s future.
The tracking program retraces those diagnosed with coronavirus using phone and credit-card data to locate and warn those who may have been in close proximity to the diagnosed—a system that is only generally used for purposes of counterterrorism.
Sigal Sadetsky, head of Israel’s Health Ministry’s Public Health Services, told the Knesset committee that the program has been effective in identifying the spread of the virus.
However, many have raised concerns about the program’s potential infringement on privacy and civil liberties.
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