Only five days after issuing new emergency regulations re-authorizing the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) to track the cellphone location of individuals diagnosed with or exposed to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the Israeli Government announced it is suspending the ISA’s surveillance.
According to a government press release, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Health, in consultation with Ministry of Health professionals, decided to discontinue the tracking. This step was taken even though the geolocation surveillance had “contributed to the efforts to break the chain of infection”, according to the government’s statement.
During the five brief days in which the emergency regulations were effective, a group of Israeli civil rights associations filed a High Court of Justice petition seeking to strike down the regulations. The Israeli Supreme Court dismissed the petition, ruling that, unlike past regulations that authorized the ISA to track individuals, these emergency regulations proportionally violate individuals’ right to privacy.