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Israel tells Palestinians to use tracking app to verify their residency status

April 9, 2020 at 12:52 pm

Mobile phone, on 6 September 2016 [Flickr]

Palestinians living in Israel have been told to download an invasive app that verifies whether their residents’ permits are still valid, reported Israeli newspaper Haaretz, but the app also tracks the user’s movements and the messages received on the device.

Called “Al Munasiq”, or “The Coordinator” in Arabic, the mobile app enables the Israeli military to track the user’s location as well as access any notifications they receive, files they download or save, and the device’s camera.

The controversial measure is raising constitutional privacy questions and criticism while the country deals with its own security during a public health crisis.

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Palestinians who are granted humanitarian or family reunification permits in Israel are usually required to visit the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) offices to verify their status.

However, the offices are currently closed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, so they have no choice but to download the application.

According to Haaretz, in order to install the app, users need to approve the following terms: “We may make use of the information we collect for any purpose, including for security purposes.”

“You agree and declare that you know that all the information you are asked to provide is not required by law or defense regulations, and it is provided of your own free will, so that we can make use of it as we see fit. In addition, you consent that we may store the information you have provided to us in our databases based on our considerations.”

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Lawyers with human rights NGO Hamoked, Adi Lustigman and Benjamin Agsteribbe, wrote on behalf of their organisation that “The connection between clarifying the status of the permits and revealing private information is unclear.”

“Placing these requirements as the sole default for a person to use the application is extremely unreasonable, and cynically exploits public distress and panic in these grim times for the inappropriate purpose to invade one’s privacy in a manner that damages human dignity,” the letter added.