On Saturday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said he is consulting with the Justice Ministry regarding the use of advanced technology to track the paths of coronavirus patients.
The new technology, which he said is already in use in Taiwan, has been used by the military and security organizations for several years, but has not been used in Israel for civilian purposes.
The technology uses cell phone locations, credit cards, and other means to track where an individual is, and would become available for use by authorities if the person in question is diagnosed with coronavirus. At that point, it would allow pharmacists, doctors, and others to see where a person has been when the individual comes to collect a medication or other item.
This would allow the government to pinpoint the exact paths of coronavirus carriers, allowing for improved preventive measures and tracking.
Professor Sigal Sadatzky, head of the Health Ministry’s Public Health Services, said: “The best strategy we have to prevent the outbreak is to prevent further infections. When we look at other countries, we see that when they were in our position – at about 100 cases – one of two things happened: There were countries where the number of cases quickly rose to the thousands, and many people began to die. That’s what we want to avoid. And there were countries which saw a more gradual rise, and that’s what we’re aiming for.”
“We are working on two fronts: We want to identify and quarantine the people who are already sick or who have a chance of developing the disease – for instance, if they were in Italy, where there is a significant number of cases. The second guideline is that anyone who shows symptoms should stay home.”
MK Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) said, “Technologically tracking coronavirus patients is an extreme step and severely harms privacy, but it may save people’s lives, and save the country a lot of money – which will translate at the end of the day into saving lives.”
“I intend to personally supervise the operation and to ensure that it is done in a minimal and controlled fashion, and that it will end immediately after the storm, and all the information will be destroyed.”
MK Stav Shaffir (Green Party) said, “The use of the ‘special’ means Netanyahu spoke about to follow civilians(!) is a horrific idea. Everyone should oppose it. The fact that someone charged with bribery and breach of trust is making such a decision only adds to the insanity. ‘Doctor Shock’: Rulership uses the civilians’ panic in this situation in order to steal their privacy. Later – cancel the trial. After that – the democracy.’
MK Revital Swid (Labor-Gesher) tweeted: “We need to handle the coronavirus and protect the public health, but we cannot take lightly this unusual and draconian step that the Justice Ministry is considering: Using special technological means is far-reaching and harms people’s privacy on every level. Under the guise of digital monitoring, they will know everything about us, and without a judge’s order and without any judicial supervision. It’s insane.”