Episode 44: Michael Birnhack on Israeli Use of Cellphone Tracking to Combat the Spread of Coronavirus

With experts warning that the Coronavirus pandemic may last well into next year, the urgency of limiting the spread of the virus is sure to increase. Cellphone and social media data will increasingly be viewed as a valuable source of information for public health authorities, as they seek to identify outbreaks in communities more quickly, rapidly warn people that they may have been exposed to the virus, or enforce quarantining orders. Israel has implemented a system that involves the collection and use of cellphone location data to identify at-risk individuals, who may receive text messages warning that they need to self-quarantine. That system has been challenged at the Israeli Supreme Court, which last week rejected elements of the plan and established a requirement of Israeli parliament approval for the measures. Tel Aviv University law professor Michael Birnhack joins me on the podcast to discuss the details of the measures and the civil liberties and democratic concerns they raise, even at a time of global crisis.

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