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Government scraps Shin Bet phone tracking of Omicron carriers after outcry

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The government will not move to extend a controversial surveillance program tracking the phones of people who contracted the Omicron coronavirus variant, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced Thursday.

The move followed intense public criticism of the decision to enlist the Shin Bet security agency to use invasive technology as part of contact tracing efforts.

Ministers who approved the program Sunday nonetheless expressed unease about using the tool, requiring that leaders seek Knesset approval to extend the program beyond a Thursday midnight deadline and promising to re-examine use of the tool every day.

“In accordance with the policy decided in advance by the coronavirus cabinet, according to which tracking will be used sparingly and examined on a daily basis, it has been decided not to continue using them at this time,” a joint statement from Bennett and Horowitz said.

The statement asserted that the phone tracking “contributed in the past week to the effort of cutting off the chain of infection,” as Bennett and Horowitz kept the door open to bringing back the tool at a later date.

“The reactivation of the location [tracking] will be examined in accordance with the morbidity........

© The Times of Israel

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