It seems that those who were astonished, abhorred, enraged or outraged from finding out that the National Security Agency (NSA) tracked millions of united states citizens and did so with the cooperation of numerous internet service providers, telecommunication companies and web-based hosting services had not even bothered to read the news in the last decade and to see reports on unauthorized searches in computers and about the way that the law authorities act. We, as Israelies, can only be jealous of the public outrage from such authoritarian conduct, because, well, in Israel, the situation is quite worse. The Israeli authorities took George Orwell’s book, Ninteen Eighty Four, and made it in to a master plan.
CC-BY-NC-ND Gerard Van der Leun
To us, as Israelies, the NSA’s authorities sound like a poor joke. Because, the NSA can only pray to get the legal and popular acceptance that the Israeli Police and other investigative authorities obtained. During the last decade, Israel enacted many surveillance laws that allowed unprecedented use of personal information for investigatory uses, and not just for the prevention of terror.
In 2007, the Israeli parliament enacted the Criminal Procedure (Enforcement Authorities – Metadata) Act. The act itself granted the police, as well as other investigative agencies, abhorrent authority to obtain widespread information about nationals, and even without judicial review. The authorities could approach the telecommunication providers (ISPs, mobile operators and phone operators), pay a few Shekels, and obtain answers to queries, as long as such queries relate to specific crimes or investigations. For example, if a murder occurred in a specific street, the police could have approached the cellular providers and request the subscribers who were in the street at a specific time.
In a similar manner, the police could approach an Internet service provider and request a list of subscribers who browsed a certain page, or inquire who was the subscriber who leaked anonymous information to a military correspondent about inadherence to the supreme court’s ruling in the military’s conduct.
The act’s application was so successful that the police requested more information about subscribers, even though it was not authorized to do so; the police, for example, requested to find out who is the sales representative who sold the mobile devices and what payment means were used to pay the bills. The act, which made the courts into a rubber stamp (because no metadata request was denied, apparently) allowed the police to request 9,000 requests in 2009; out of which, almost 2,000 were related to political activities such as public disturbances.
That’s why the Israeli Civil Rights Association appealed against the act (HCJ 3809/08 ACRI v. The Police), but the appeal was rejected. Following the rejection of the appeal, the state decided it wants more authority for more authorities, so that even authorities like the Parks and Forests Authority will be entitled for your GPS location, and that more information will be provided without judicial review, as the courts already approve almost all the requests.
Here, in Zion, we can only be jealous about the US Citizens who are abhorred; Israel addressed Google for subscriber information (not by the Metadata act, as it does not apply to Google), about 350 times since 2009. Google responded to most of these requests; meaning that there are 350 people in Israel that the government obtained their correspondence, and that we cannot be certain that they were informed about such intrusion. But Google is an exemption, it provides us with reports.
Israeli nationals are always subjected to espionage and surveillance: employers read your email, the state sets up traffic cameras, parking cameras, security cameras and protection cameras. And all this time we ask: do we need protection from criminals or the state?