Israel Authorizes Use of Phone Tracking Tech To Contain Spread of Omicron Covid Variant

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Rights groups petitioned Israel's top court on Monday to repeal new COVID-19 measures that authorize the country's domestic intelligence service to use counter-terrorism phone tracking technology to contain the spread of the Omicron virus variant. Announcing the emergency measures on Saturday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the phone tracking would be used to locate carriers of the new and potentially more contagious variant in order to curb its transmission to others. Israeli rights groups say the emergency measures violate previous Supreme Court rulings over such surveillance, used on-and-off by the country's Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency since March, 2020. A senior health ministry official said on Sunday that use of phone tracking would be "surgical" in nature, only to be utilized on confirmed or suspected carriers of the variant. The surveillance technology matches virus carriers' locations against other mobile phones nearby to determine with whom they have come into contact. Israel's Supreme Court this year limited the scope of its use after civil rights groups mounted challenges over privacy concerns. Further reading: Omicron Covid Variant Poses Very High Global Risk, Says WHO

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