The Israeli government announced that it will give its security agency permission to track people who have contacted or are suspected of having contacted the Coronavirus.
The data which is normally used for gathering intell for counter-terrorism efforts was deliberated for hours by Israel PM Benjamin Netanyau and his cabinet.
Authorities will have access to the sensitive data for the next 30 days and the Prime Minister promised the authorities would not abuse the data:
Israel is a democracy, we have to maintain the balance between the rights of the individual and needs of general society, and we are doing that.Benjamin Netanyahu
How will this work?
Authorities will go through geolocation data collected from mobile network providers, find people who came into closest contact with coronavirus carriers and send them text messages directing them to isolate themselves immediately.
Those who breach isolation orders can be sentenced for upto 6 months in prison.
The use of advanced Shin Bet technologies is intended for one purpose only: saving lives. In this way, the spread of the virus in Israel can be narrowed, quickly and efficiently. This is a focused, time-limited and limited activity that is monitored by the government, the attorney general and the Knesset’s regulatory mechanisms.
As with anything to do with privacy, there are fears that beyond Coronavirus containment such information can be later misused and rob civilians of their right to privacy.
These kind of issues are slippery slopes and both sides arguing for the use of this technology in this manner and against it have arguments that have merit. We’ll only be able to know certainly whether or not this is a good move after the fact.