Airplane mode and prepaid SIMs: some Israelis dodge COVID-19 tracking

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By Dan Williams
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s cellphone surveillance for coronavirus contact-tracing may have overcome challenges by privacy watchdogs, but the state tracking policy is hard put to deal with low-tech evasion methods seemingly lifted from TV cop shows.
Some Israelis, fearing a quarantine order after unwittingly being near a coronavirus carrier, are rendering themselves untraceable while in public by switching their cellphones to “airplane mode” or using prepaid “burner” SIM cards instead.
Such actions are not illegal and, although there is only anecdotal evidence for their prevalence, they drew remonstration from Communication Minister Yoaz Hendel on Sunday.
“This is a problem,” he told Ynet TV. “Ultimately, we are not a police state. We will not manage to compel the citizens of the State of Israel to keep to the health regulations.”

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