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Israel to limit surveillance as infection rate drops

Israelis enjoy the beach in Tel Aviv as temperatures rise to 40.

(JNS) – The Israeli Cabinet decided on Sunday, May 24, to limit the Shin Bet security service’s surveillance of cell phones of people infected with the coronavirus and only use it as a last resort.

Because of the decreased rate of infection, the Cabinet changed the regulation so that phone tracking would be allowed “in specific and special cases only, where location … cannot be completed with epidemiological investigation using other methods,” reported Reuters.

The Cabinet did note that the program could be ramped up again if virus rates go up.

Israel has had 16,712 coronavirus cases and, to date, 280 deaths. The country has largely reopened with some restrictions in place.

The surveillance program was approved by the Cabinet in March as an emergency measure and without Knesset approval. A Knesset panel in early May had extended the mobile phone-data tracking system by the Shin Bet security service until May 26. The Supreme Court had previously ruled that the government must pass a law for phone tracking and could no longer rely on emergency measures.

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