According to a report from the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was criticized by cyber experts for his proposal to “microchip” children who are going back to schools and kindergartens as the Wuhan virus lockdown is relaxed.
During a press conference on May 4, Netanyahu suggested that the Health Ministry use novel technology to help Israel transition towards a post-Wuhan virus order.
“That is, technology that has not been used before and is allowed under the legislation we shall enact,” Netanyahu made clear.
“I spoke with our heads of technology in order to find measures Israel is good at, such as sensors. For instance, every person, every kid – I want it on kids first – would have a sensor that would sound an alarm when you get too close, like the ones on cars,” the prime minister commented.
“It will be hard to do it to more than a million schoolchildren who return to their educational institutions in order to ensure one student sits at the distance of two meters from another. It is fictional and dangerous,” cyber expert Einat Meron said to Israeli news outlet Ynet.
“Theoretically, I get the idea behind it,” she remarked. “But although such distance-sensitive microchips exist in vehicles, it is different in humans.” In Meron’s view, “a beeping sound telling me I got close to someone is not enough. Who says it will change anything? I would have gotten closer either way.”
The expert also pointed out that “the actual issue is the enforcement, and here everything changes.” Meron told Ynet that “microchipping children will not pass any test – both practically and legally.” In addition to Meron’s assertion that informing citizens on their distance will not have an impact of their actions, many Israelis believe that the state would take advantage of the information available from the sensors and possibly use it in ways that violate privacy rights.
“If the information with the kids’ location is uploaded to the internet, a pedophile with some cyber knowledge may invade the system and stalk them outside their schools, follow them and distribute the information on other platforms,” Meron stated. “Can the state take responsibility for that?”
The Prime Minister’s Office replied to the report, telling Ynet that Netanyahu’s suggestion “is not to be implemented through databases, but through simple technology notifying [the citizens] about their distance. It is a voluntary option that is designed to help children keep their distance, like Mobileye with vehicles.”
The office also noted that Netanyahu’s suggestion is “an idea that may help maintain social distancing, and there will not be any violation of privacy.”
On May 6, the news outlet Walla reported that police tracked the movements of all vehicles in Israel and the data is now stored in an unregulated database named Eagle Eye. The media site cited a source which revealed that the information “may be kept for years on end.”
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act that police make public how extensive the Eagle Eye operations are, in addition to the time the information on Israeli citizens’ movements that is constantly being gathered in the system.
Israel Police responded to ACRI’s concerns, declaring that the system’s activity was not subject to internal standards despite being in operation for several years. “Either way, once finalized, the procedure will not be disclosed to the public,” police highlighted.
All over the world, the Wuhan virus is bringing up similar dilemmas.
Although public safety is necessary, there needs to be a balance between keeping the population safe while respecting traditional freedoms.
Israel like the U.S., would be wise to exercise prudence when trying to handle the Wuhan virus.
Will Josh Hawley be the Next Champion for an America First Foreign Policy?
America First May Have its Next Leader to End Wars Abroad
Does America First have a new non-interventionist champion?
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has been viewed by many as one of the figures who could potentially lead a Trumpist movement after Trump, should Joe Biden end up being installed as president on January 2021.
Hawley has made a name for himself as a champion of Middle America and questioning the neoliberal orthodoxy on immigration and trade. Lately, Hawley has made a pivot towards questioning the interventionist conventional wisdom on foreign policy.
In early October of this year, the Missouri Senator called for the American government to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Hawley tweeted, “Almost 20 years now in Afghanistan. Long past time to draw this war to an end.”
Hawley’s foreign policy has been a work progress over the past two years. During a 2019 speech Hawley gave at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), he questioned the nation-building policy prescriptions of previous administrations, demonstrating some degree of skepticism towards non-stop interventionism abroad on the part of the Senator.
That said, it remains to be seen if Hawley’s legislative record will fully match his rhetoric.
Hawley is a staunch China hawk, who fears the rise of China and is a strong voice against China’s expansionist efforts. Hawley’s track record shows that his foreign policy views are rough around the edges. Daniel Larison of The American Conservative is not as optimistic about Hawley judging by his votes on the Yemeni Civil War. Larison cited several of Hawley’s votes that may be cause for concern:
“Sen. Hawley voted against the Senate’s resolution of disapproval that opposed the president’s effort to circumvent Congress with a bogus “emergency” to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More important, he voted with the president and most Senate Republicans against the antiwar Yemen resolution that would have cut off all U.S. support to the Saudi coalition.”
Nevertheless, Hawley’s comments on Afghanistan are a good sign that Hawley is catching on to the fact that Americans are tired of foreign wars. Politicians can change their views and behaviors. Hawley is likely recognizing that the America First movement is exhausted by the endless wars and wants candidates and elected officials who offer withdrawal plans.
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) November 24, 2020
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a fierce interventionist skeptic, maintained cautious optimism about Hawley. In a tweet, he commented, “All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting.”
All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting:https://t.co/0g3jpVPsDm
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 24, 2020
The jury is still out on Hawley. Regardless of flaws in his voting record, America First advocates should continue to push him and other America First leaning Republicans in the right direction. We should never forget that politicians are still receptive to political pressure and the grassroots holds the keys to political change.
Young senators like Hawley are the future of American politics and it makes sense for foreign policy restrainers to lobby them and push them in a direction that favors non-interventionism.
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