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Israel: Authorization for Preservation of Telecommunication Data

(Jan. 2, 2008) On December 17, 2007, the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) passed the Criminal Procedure (Enforcement Authorities – Telecommunications Data) Law, 5768-2007. The Law authorizes the police to establish a database composed of technical data of telecommunications, telephone, and Internet transactions. The Law defines three ways in which the police could obtain such information: the first is by a judicial decree; the second, by special permit from high-ranking officers in case of serious crimes, to save human life, prevent offenses, or disclose information on the location of the offender; the third, and most controversial, by authorization of a police officer to request data from telecommunications companies. Such data include identification of subscribers and telephone equipment (IMEI) and of identifying elements of SIM cards, such as cellular antennas and their location, to enable tracing of conversations. In addition to the police, the military police, its internal investigation divisions, the stock exchange, and the anti-trust and tax authorities may have access to the data. The Law recognizes privileged information in the case of sensitive occupations such as those of lawyers, doctors, and religious leaders.

The new Law is said to provide modern tools for the police to fight crime. Critics of the Law, however, strongly object and argue that it is too invasive and that it does not achieve the proper balance between the need to protect the public and fight crime and the harm that could be done to the constitutional right to privacy. (Criminal Procedure (Enforcement Authorities – Telecommunications Data) Law, 5768-2007, the Knesset Web site (official source) (last visited Dec. 17, 2007); Approved by Law: Detection Authorities for Cellular and Internet, Computers, YEDIOT ACHARONOT ONLINE (last visited Dec. 17, 2007).)