Israel halts virus phone tracker amid privacy concerns

WION Web Team
World Published: Dec 03, 2021, 06:36 PM(IST)

Coronavirus in Israel Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Israel reported three confirmed cases of the Omicron virus even as the country's health ministry said at least 30 more suspected cases are under observation.

Israel has decided to discontinue the controversial practice of tracking the Omicron variant cases through mobiles which was developed by the country's intelligence agency.

PM Bennett had authorised the use of the technology after Omicron cases were detected in the country last week. However, it won't be renewed from Thursday and Friday after it lapses, the government said.

The country has reported three confirmed cases of the Omicron virus even as the country's health ministry said at least 30 more suspected cases are under observation.

Also Read: Australia reports Omicron cases in school

Israel's Supreme Court had earlier said it wasn't proven whether the technology "poses a disproportionate infringement on the right to privacy which would justify its striking down".

The measure was introduced for the first time by the previous Benjamin Netanyahu government.

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The rights groups had alleged the emergency measures violated the country's Supreme Court's earlier ruling. The Bennett government has sought the tracking "to locate verified Omicron cases and thereby cut the chains of infection" while restricting it only to the new strain. 

Health minister Nitzan Horowitz had said the measure was brought in for a "limited and very brief" due to privacy and human rights concerns.

Also Read: WHO warns Asia-Pacific to brace for Omicron, urges countries to speed up vaccination

However, the government added that the tracking system may be reintroduced if morbidity requires. The Israeli government had barred foreign travellers from entering the country. The entry of foreigners is set to be allowed only through a special committee.

The country has also put down strict coronavirus rules for its citizens requiring them to produce a negative PCR test and quarantine themselves for three days even if they are vaccinated.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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