WEST BANK (Dispatches) – The Zionist regime’s so-called security service Shin Bet has been using a database collected from mobile phone companies to monitor the activity of journalists, according to local media.
The information came to light in the regime’s response to a petition filed by a civil rights group with the High Court, Haaretz reported on Friday.
Using the database, the agency can work out where a journalist is based on their mobile phone location, as well as whom they talked to and for how long, the newspaper said.
Under the petition, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) had asked the High Court to remove a clause from the law regulating Shin Bet’s operations that compel mobile phone companies in the occupied territories to provide the agency with information regarding every call or message passing through their operations.
The law, which was approved in 2002, regulates the mostly-secret operations of Shin Bet, which are not subject to public oversight.
The data collected by the mobile phone companies has been kept by Shin Bet for the last two decades, Haaretz said.
Clause 11 of the law says the use of this data is subject to prior approval by the head of Shin Bet, who is required to report to the prime minister and attorney general about such permits every three months, and once a year to the Knesset committee dealing with the agency.
Under the petition, the ACRI says the clause includes constitutional errors, since the authorization determined in it is not explicit and detailed, as required when there is an invasion of privacy, and that such authorization goes beyond what is required for the agency, Haaretz reported.
The civil rights group also says there is no mechanism for protecting people with professional immunity such as journalists, and that the decisions of the Shin Bet chief and the prime minister are not subject to judicial oversight, with insufficient mechanisms for monitoring.
Earlier this year, Shin Bet admitted to using spyware to track Palestinians’ mobile phones and sending them threatening text messages during protests in occupied East Al-Quds in May 2021.
The revelation came soon after the occupying regime’s police admitted using the same tracking system.