Israel’s Shin Bet has been authorized by the government to use its technological abilities to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus, the intelligence service said on Tuesday.
According to Israeli media reports, the surveillance efforts mostly deal with monitoring the mobile phones of those who are infected and deal with the same technology used in the fight against terrorism.
The virus’ spread poses a significant threat to Israel’s citizens, economy and national security, Shin Bet added in the statement.
More than 300 people are confirmed to be infected with the virus, according to the Health Ministry. There have so far been no deaths.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had announced the step on Monday evening, without giving concrete details.
According to media reports, the monitoring involves tracking infected people’s phones to see who they were in contact with before their diagnosis.
Shin Bet is authorised to locate the whereabouts of every mobile phone user in Israel around the clock.
According to news website ynet, the technology allows Shin Bet to track people who were at “contagion distance” from the infected and inform them over their phones that they have been exposed and must enter quarantine or be tested.
Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman said the intelligence service “is aware that this is an activity that goes beyond its ongoing counterterrorism activities” and that control mechanisms have been put in place and a limited group of agents will deal with the matter.