Israel to Track Coronavirus Using Cellphone Data
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has authorized the country’s internal security agency to tap into a vast and previously undisclosed trove of cellphone data to retrace the movements of people who have contracted the coronavirus and identify others who should be quarantined because their paths crossed," report David M. Halbfinger, Isabel Kershner, and Ronen Bergman.
The plan is to use geolocation data from cellphones to identify people who may have been exposed to the virus and send text messages telling them to isolate themselves. The data is regularly collected for counterterrorism purposes, but using it for public health efforts is new.
Halbfinger, Kershner, and Bergman go into more detail about the political situation in Israel and the debate around privacy concerns. "It is the existence of the cellphone metadata trove and its use to track coronavirus patients and carriers that privacy advocates say poses the greatest test of Israeli democracy at an extraordinarily fragile moment," they say.