Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir / TPS
Session of the Israeli Supreme Court

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Sunday that the country’s Shin Bet security agency must halt its use of surveillance technology to track the movements of coronavirus carriers until the government can pass new laws to back such measures.

“The state’s choice to use its preventative security service for monitoring those who wish it no harm, without their consent, raises great difficulties, and a suitable alternative, compatible with the principles of privacy, must be found,” the court said, according to Reuters.

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Citing the need to protect the freedom of the press, the court also said that monitoring of journalists who had been infected with the virus can only be carried out with their consent, in order to protect their sources.

“We must take every precaution to ensure that the extraordinary developments with which we are dealing these days do not put us on a slippery slope in which extraordinary and harmful tools are used without justification,” said the court in its ruling.

In March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet approved emergency regulations enabling the Shin Bet to employ surveillance technology ordinarily reserved for counter-terror operations to track the movements of known coronavirus carriers.

The court ordered the government to begin legislation by April 30 and to finish it within a few weeks if it wanted to continue the surveillance program, according to the report.

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