Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has approved the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, to use cellphone location data to help combat the spread of the global pandemic Coronavirus.
The data will be used to retrace the movements of individuals who test positive for the virus and identify others who should be quarantined.
The cabinet unanimously approved the use of the technology developed initially for counterterrorism purposes in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, first raised the issue during the weekend. He said authorities would use the data to notify people who may have come into contact with someone infected with the virus, and also to enforce quarantine orders.
“Israel is a democracy and we must maintain the balance between civil rights and the public’s needs,” Netanyahu said.
“These tools will very much assist us in locating the sick and stopping the virus from spreading.”
Israel isn’t the only country that is using technological tracking of civilians to attempt to contain the spread of disease. In South Korea, an amended 2015 law allows the health ministry to collect extensive data, including credit card use and location tracking, without a warrant, all in the interest of disease prevention.
With 300 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, Israel has shut down much of the country, including hotels, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and shopping centers. All international arrivals need to self-isolate for two weeks.