The government of Israel suspended a program enacted last month at the behest of the prime minister’s government granting the police the authority to track roaming and location data of those under quarantine order. A parliamentary oversight committee held that the loss of privacy was a greater cost to society than the proffered benefit of tracking those suspected of carrying or transmitting the COVID-19 virus.
The underlying technology used to track civilian COVID patients stems from that developed for Shin Bet (The Israeli General Security Service) for counter-terrorist tracking of cell phones carried by security risks to the state. In this case the technology was co-opted for use against medical patients health officials suspected might violate quarantine orders.
While the reversal of policy is welcomed, it does provide a proof that any technology or power crafted under the promise of addressing a great and manifest danger to the people or the state usually finds a way to be used against ordinary citizens when politicians or government become tempted to broaden its application under “emergency” conditions.