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Rights & COVID-19: Privacy

Use of Technological Means to Track the Movements of COVID-19 Patients: ACRI petitioned the HCJ against emergency regulations allowing Shin Bet to track civilians (18-03-2020).

The petition resulted in an interim order and convening of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Then, together with Adalah, ACRI submitted to the HCJ our objection to the State’s request to cancel the HCJ temporary injunction in respect of the emergency regulations authorizing the police to obtain, without a warrant, location data of the infected with the intention of enforcing quarantines. When the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, which was convened to oversee the emergency regulations in Knesset, decided to expand the Shin Bet’s authority, ACRI appealed again and disseminated a position paper to all members of Knesset.

A revised petition to the HCJ was submitted (05-04-2020), against the government’s decision to authorize the Shin Bet to track the location and trajectories of COVID-19 patients and anyone who comes in close contact with them during a 14-day period. In addition, ACRI demanded the repeal of the emergency regulation that allows the police to obtain, without a warrant, the location data from telecommunication companies about civilians with quarantine orders, in order to enforce quarantine.

On April 22nd 2020, the government withdrew the bill authorizing the Police to use cellular data gleaned from phone companies to enforce quarantine before the bill’s second reading.

On April 26th 2020, the HCJ ruled in favor of ACRI’s petition, stating that as it stands, the Shin Bet will not have authority to continue its surveillance program beyond April 30th, and that should the government want to continue to utilize the Shin Bet in such a manner they will have to pass special legislation in the coming weeks.

Read the original petition here. Read the HCJ decision for an interim order here (translated via the Israeli Supreme Court Project at Benjamin N.Cardozo School of Law.) Read the HCJ decision from the second hearing here (translated via the Israeli Supreme Court Project at Benjamin N.Cardozo School of Law.) Read the HCJ decision from the final hearing on the petition here (translated via the Israeli Supreme Court Project at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.)

Other issues:

We joined a group of privacy experts demanding to immediately publish the communication details between the Ministry of Health and private companies hired to assist it in conducting tests to detect the Coronavirus, as media reports indicate that the Ministry of Health has contacted two private companies to do so. These are companies operating in the field of genetic mapping, and therefore the transfer of medical information to them - genetic information - raises a serious concern for the privacy of the subjects. The main concern is that the sensitive medical information will be used for other purposes without the consent or control of those whose information was taken (29.03.2020).

Together with privacy experts, we appealed to the the Ministry of Health and hospital administrators to re-examine the operation of the "Big Brother" procedure - installing cameras and microphones to monitor hospitalized patients 24 hours a day. We sought to reduce the violation of privacy to the minimum required for the care of patients - for example, to set up an area where the camera is not taking pictures, or to give an alert when the camera / microphone is turned on.

Joined a letter with other experts regarding using drones to track Corona patients and those in quarantine (16.04.2020).

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