Israel’s attempt to curb the coronavirus outbreak might be the next to jeopardize privacy. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has outlined plans to use anti-terrorism tracking tech to locate people in contact with those carrying the virus.
He wasn’t specific about the tech besides referencing “digital means” similar to those from Taiwan, but Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security service confirmed to Reuters that it was looking at wielding its methods.
The announcement is already raising concerns. Privacy expert Avner Pinchuk warned that this could include real-time phone tracking to alert authorities of quarantine violations, or tracing metadata to determine a COVID-19 patient’s travels and contacts.
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Shin Bet responded by saying it wouldn’t use its tech “in the context of isolation guidelines,” but that may not be reassuring if you object to constant monitoring in the first place.
Numerous countries have locked down large parts of their infrastructure, including Israel — it just ordered shutdowns for hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and theaters. The use of surveillance tech is relatively novel, though, and this might prompt other countries to follow suit if the law allows.
If that happens, surveillance tech may be all too common — at least while the outbreak is still raging.