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A Coronavirus Tracking App to Replace Shin Bet

Dec 1, 2020
A Coronavirus Tracking App to Replace Shin Bet

Zvi Hauserm the Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee showed much enthusiasm on Monday. His excitement was attributed to the possibility of releasing a new mobile phone application, which could replace the Shin Bet’s involvement in the surveillance of people. 

The Israel Security Agency has been getting involved in the lives of the citizens of Israel to track those who have been infected by the virus. However, this new application by the name of ‘the traffic light’ could limit the reach of the Shin Bet permanently. 

Udi Kaliner, an official of the Health Ministry, believes that the new application might be fully developed in the next two weeks. But, legislation and other aspects could ensure its release to be four to six weeks later. 

The traffic light app will work by following the traffic light rating system that the ministry uses for cities. Citizens will be free to download the application in their phones and receive information about the area where they are living or traveling to. The designation of red, yellow, and green, will make it easier for people to track the outbreak of the virus in various regions of the country. 

The main objective of ‘the traffic light’ is to assist citizens in internalizing the drastic consequences of visiting certain areas, where the spread of the virus is more prevalent. 

Once the app is developed, legislation by the Knesset will be required as the usage of the app would have to be made obligatory to some extent. Different ideas of what exactly that obligation will be were given. Some of the people involved want to make it a general obligation to use the app. However, they do not want a named enforcement. Others suggested that those citizens who do not download the app should be blocked from entering any indoor areas and stores. 

Whoever downloads the application into their phone to gain entry to a particular business, will directly be streaming their information to the Health Ministry. Their location and the total time they spent in the store will be backed up by officials from the ministry.  

Kaliner explained that ‘the traffic light’ will not be able to track how close one person is to another when they are inside the store. The Shin Bet’s tracking tool, on the other hand, has the ability to do so. But, the official reassured that the ministry will successfully register that the two individuals were present within the space. 

People are unclear about how this key difference between both the applications will have an effect on unnecessary quarantines. Other individuals present in the store may be sent into quarantine but, they may not have been in close proximity or contact at all. 

The civil society groups present at the hearing also took to presenting their own alternatives. For example, Karin On, from the Israeli Privacy NGO, along with the Association for the Israeli Internet NGO, supported utilizing a Google application for the purpose of tracking. Recently, the app has gained much popularity.

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