Press Release

ISA Tracking Should Not Be Resumed

Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee debate on contact tracing: "Permission to reintroduce the ISA's tracking program should not be granted."


Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, the head of the Israel Democracy Institute's Democracy in the Information Age program, on today’s (Tuesday) debate in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on contact tracing: "Permission to reintroduce the ISA's tracking program should not be granted."

"Permission to reintroduce the Israel Security Agency's (ISA) tracking program should not be granted. This technology creates a false sense of security and does not provide a worthy substitute for effective testing. According to our analysis of the data, the ISA has a 12% error rate and less than three out of ten every positive cases are detected. Among other reasons, this is due to a lack of accuracy of the technology when its targets are inside buildings. This shortcoming of the technology then requires supplemental information, such as access to the call data history of individual citizens."

"Within three weeks, the Ministry of Health should present to the Committee a dedicated and voluntary application based on accurate Bluetooth data similar to programs in place in other western democracies. Budgets should simultaneously also be invested in a campaign to encourage significant portions of the population to download this application. In addition to disseminating this application and launching a public campaign for its usage, targeted solutions must be developed for those who use 'kosher phones' for religious reasons and other segments of the population who do use smartphones. This can include 'smart' bracelets and other smart cards.”

"The idea of distributing 'smart' bracelets – an alternative proposed by the National Security Council for the 3.5 million Israelis without smartphones – can be a good solution, as long as they are worn voluntarily and privacy is protected. Similar solutions are under consideration in a number of US states as schools and universities contemplate ways to reopen and operate during the 'corona routine' expected in the next academic year. At the same time, it is important not to rely too much on data collected from younger children. Their whereabouts are known most of the time, and a good epidemiological investigation can track their movements and possible infections with relative ease.”