Experts Criticize Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu After Suggesting that Children Get Chipped
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.