Israeli Coronavirus Surveillance Explained: Who’s Tracking You and What Happens With the Data

Early on Tuesday morning the government unanimously approved emergency regulations for gathering cellphone location data and additional personal information about those diagnosed with the coronavirus or those suspected of having been infected.

The purpose is to warn potential victims and to enforce quarantine orders. The ministers, who approved the move in a special telephone survey, bypassed the Knesset, which did not have time to discuss the step, although the Justice Ministry promised that it would do so. The cabinet also separately approved emergency regulations for the police and for the Shin Bet security service.

>> Read more: Security agencies tightening grip on Israeli lives | Analysis ■ An epidemic of surveillance | Editorial 

Who can be tracked?

Anyone who has been diagnosed with the virus, or who is suspected of being ill, even if no laboratory confirmation has yet been received, must remain in quarantine. Even someone who was in close contact with a patient or person under quarantine in the 14 days before the diagnosis – 14 days being the incubation period of the virus – can be monitored. The data is designed to warn anyone who came into contact with those people, by means of text messages, and to monitor anyone sent to quarantine.

What information will be gathered?

The police will be able to collect the data on the location of the person under surveillance and to send it to the Health Ministry. For the purpose of enforcing the quarantines, the data on an individual’s location will be collected as a sample, which is not prolonged or consecutive. This refers to the person’s last location.