Surveillance Under COVID-19


The COVID-19 global public health emergency has given rise to heightened forms of surveillance in the name of public safety. The Israeli government quickly authorized the Shin Bet security service to apply its considerable powers of surveillance, long used against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line, to track the cellphones of confirmed coronavirus patients and those around them.

The experience of controlling, repressing and surveilling an occupied population has long been at the core of the so-called Israeli advantage in the Homeland Security (HLS) market. The Israeli military apparatus serves as an incubator, laboratory and high-profile client for Israel’s surveillance industry, which translates Israel’s portfolio of repression into ‘field-proven’ product offerings, marketed not only to traditional HLS clients, but also to municipalities, schools and businesses.

Moments of crisis, such as the present one, generate new business opportunities for Israeli surveillance tech. The notorious Israeli spyware company NSO Group is reportedly developing software to match cellphone-tracking and locational data. BriefCam, whose video surveillance has been deployed in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem, tweeted in late March that its people-counting video-analytic capabilities “can help organizations proactively protect” against COVID-19. KMC Systems, an Elbit Systems subsidiary, is already supplying its products to US healthcare professionals.

Utilizing data from an Israeli hospital, IAI developed a model that predicts the progression of the medical status of COVID-19 patients using big data and AI. The model was developed in IAI’s Systems Missiles and Space Group.
Pangea IT announced a platform for Covid-19 air travel, with which governments can issue a smart card, featuring the holder’s photo, a digital signature, a chip, a hologram, and up-to-date encrypted data on the holder’s Covid-19 profile, linked to a country’s medical database.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed a collaboration agreement with the Abu-Dhabi based Group42, for Covid-19 focused R&D. IAI has been a key player in Israel’s militarized coronavirus response.
Elbit subsidiary KMC Systems has been selected by members of the US Department of Defense – Defense Health Agency, United States Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, and the Wright Brothers Institute to evaluate ventilator designs for Covid-19 response.
Israeli policies vis-à-vis Palestinian labour in the context of the Covid-19 crisis expose how pre-existing structures interlock to secure profits for the occupying power at the expense of an occupied population.
An Israeli military tender asks bidders to map out surveillance needs of all countries (excluding Iran, Syria and Lebanon). Israel regards surveillance export as a main lever for economic growth as protests spread worldwide.
Proposed legislation would enable the Israeli authorities to trace the whereabouts of confirmed patients in the two weeks preceding the diagnosis.
تكشف السياسات الاسرائيلية تجاه العمال الفلسطينيين في ظل فيروس الكورونا الطريقة التي تتقاطع بها مباني السيطرة والخنق الاقتصادي القائمة، وذلك لضمان الارباح على حساب الشعب المُستعمَر.
Who Profits Company Feature highlights the coronavirus-related activities of the Israeli spyware company NSO Group.
Israeli surveillance tech continues to be marketed as part of the coronavirus response. In this instance, AnyVision systems will detect people without face masks.
Military intelligence units continue to develop coronavirus-related tech in partnership with startups and hospitals. New Israeli carriage tank technology is concurrently being adapted for hospital use.
Who Profits investigates the coronavirus-related activities of the Israeli military establishment and private enterprises, exposing the deep military bias of the Israeli economy and political regime.
Israeli Supreme Court decision leaves the door open for further Sin Bet interference in civilian matters. For Palestinians, such interference has long been the norm.
The app was developed by Israeli soldiers in collaboration with employees of weapons corporation Rafael and Amazon Israel, joining a growing list of medical products based on Israeli military know-how.
Israeli military intelligence capabilities, central to the occupation apparatus, have been incorporated into Israel’s coronavirus response, gathering medical intelligence.
AnyVision, whose biometrics tech is deployed in Israeli military checkpoints and Palestinian towns in the oPt, will deploy thermal cameras in Israeli hospitals.
Israel’s extensive surveillance apparatus, long used against Palestinians, is now deployed to monitor Israeli coronavirus patients.
Israeli government investment arm is offering millions in grants for coronavirus-related tech. Recipients include several firms specializing in population control through remote monitoring, sensors and scent recognition.
According to its CEO, Elbit Systems "is an ideal candidate to benefit from budgets and contracts of governments that would want to quickly raise employment and the GDP. Civil unrest also creates demand for public security products.”
Subsidiary raised $5M to develop a facial recognition platform that could aid policing of populations under quarantine, based on capabilities of the parent company, led by veterans of Israeli elite military intelligence units.
In cooperation with the Israeli MOD and military, Israeli spyware firm NSO Group developed a data analysis system to track Israelis and rate their probability of contracting coronavirus. System trials have been reported in multiple countries.
Canon’s full subsidiary, the Israeli video surveillance firm BriefCam active in occupied East Jerusalem, is advocating the use of intelligent video surveillance as part of the response to COVID-19.
“Allowing the Shin Bet to employ its secret, unsupervised methods in civilian affairs could create a dangerous slippery slope that might pave the way for its intervention in additional civilian realms."
Across the globe, far-right governments are using the pandemic to further restrict civil space and deepen surveillance.