The Israeli institute for democracy points to the lack of control of online espionage by intelligence services and requests for more human rights protection.
According to a report published last Wednesday by the Israeli Institute of Democracy, this debate and the implications of this surveillance in terms of the privacy rights of spying victims must take place in Israel, to ensure that human rights are not violated.
The regulations of online surveillance for security purposes haven’t been discussed
While the issue of biometric identity documents and passports in Israel and the creation of a national database containing biometric data of all Israeli citizens has been the subject of intense public debate, “the regulations governing online surveillance for security purposes have hardly been discussed; in particular, existing legislation and its compatibility with current social and technological realities as well as with human rights”, according to the report.
According to researchers Amir Cahane and Yuval Shany, who is a human rights and humanitarian law specialist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and currently chairing the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the use of modern technologies to collect, store and analyse online communication data can provide richer and more definite information than ever on the people being “monitored”.
Risk of serious privacy invasion
But it is also necessary to take into account the “significant invasion of privacy” inflicted on the victims of this surveillance and those with whom they are in contact.
The circle of those affected is considerably enlarged when intelligence services use “mass collection methods”, which makes it possible to extract large amounts of data on communications rather than targeting specific individuals.
Cahane and Shany found out that Israeli law does not deal with the mass collection of online communications, let alone the provisions relating to the exceptional circumstances in which such a mass data collection operation could be authorized.
It does not lay down basic rules as to how long the content and details of the people involved in the communications may be stored, contrary to the laws in Europe, and German and British legislations for example. In addition, Israeli legislations, unlike other countries, do not address online data mining – the statistical analysis of databases that may include cross-checks with other government-held databases.