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Israel abandons plans to track Omicron using mobiles

by on06 December 2021

We never meant for the news to get out

Israel said it was abandoning plans to use antiterrorism software and databases to track the movement of suspected Omicron variants.

The move was challenged by privacy watchdogs but was authorised by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government. The tech matches virus carriers' locations against other mobile phones nearby to determine their contacts.

Of course it could also be used to build a database of who each Israeli meets and chats with and Shin Bet spooks would be able to compare this with a list of known terrorists. The upshot is that if you bumped into a terrorist in the supermarket Shin Bet would associate you with that terrorist and Covid.  At the moment Covid is probably more of a worry. 

It has been decided that the authorisation will not be renewed after it lapses at midnight between Thursday and Friday, Bennett's office said in a statement, citing "up-to-date situational assessments."

Israel's Supreme Court rejected a petition by four rights groups seeking to repeal the measure so there was no legal reason for Bennett to pull the tech.

The supremes said that it has not been proven that the Shin Bet authorisation poses a disproportionate infringement on the right to privacy which would justify its striking down.

It must simply be that bringing in the tech was politically not a good idea.


Last modified on 07 December 2021
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