Parliament grants Israeli government three more weeks of mobile phone surveillance
A parliamentary panel granted Israel's Shin Bet security service an additional three weeks to use mobile phone data to track people infected with the coronavirus; prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had requested a six-week extension while his government drafts legislation to regulate the data use in line with requirements imposed by the Israeli Supreme Court. Testimony given to the parliament's intelligence subcommittee showed that the Shin Bet surveillance was the reason it was possible to identify more than 5,500 of the country's 16,200 cases.
The voluntary contact tracing app, Hamagen ("The Shield" in Hebrew) quickly reached 1.5 million downloads after its launch but then stalled; it is not considered accurate enough because it uses only GPS and self-reported patient information. The Health Ministry intends to replace it with a Bluetooth-based app that it hopes will reach at least 4 million of the country's 9 million population.
Writer: Steven Scheer and Tova Cohen