Israeli Supreme Court Says Courts May Issue Warrants For Geolocation Data in Civil Cases

The Israeli Supreme Court had delivered a precedential judgment holding that courts are authorized to issue a warrant to obtain geolocation data of litigants in civil cases in certain circumstances.

The Supreme Court’s ruling was delivered on a motion by a defendant in a civil lawsuit for sexual assault, who sought a warrant to obtain the mobile device geolocation data of the plaintiff victim spanning 18 months. The District Court, having been convinced that the geolocation data is necessary to try the case, granted the defendant’s motion. The plaintiff appealed the lower court’s decision.

The Supreme Court held that while location data can greatly promote findings of truthful facts in civil cases, the potential harm inherent to the disclosure of location data warrants a cautious approach. Therefore, before granting a warrant, the court should consider whether the location data may contribute to an unequivocal determination of a concrete material fact, in genuine dispute between the parties. The Court also held that such warrants should be granted only for a limited timeframe to minimize the invasion of the data subject’s privacy.

Having considered these factors, the Supreme Court reversed the District Court’s decision, finding that the potential harm to the plaintiff’s privacy is disproportionate and overrides the benefit that may arise from granting the comprehensive warrant that the defendant sought.

Click HERE to read the Israeli Supreme Court ruling in Leave for Civil Appeal 2404/21 Jane Doe v. John Doe (in Hebrew)