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Israel’s War Against Hamas Prompts Emergency Data Protection Measures

Client Updates / Oct 30, 2023

Written by Haim Ravia and Dotan Hammer

Following Hamas’s atrocious attack against Israel, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) has been authorized, under emergency regulations, to access computer systems that operate stationary cameras. For a three-months’ period, the IDF can delete footage or disrupt camera operations, especially when the footage could pose a threat to national security or interfere with the IDF’s military operations.

The access is permitted in case of immediate and urgent need, where there are no other viable alternatives to obtain the owner’s consent within the necessary timeframe. The  IDF is required to use these powers minimally and temporarily, endeavor to restore affected systems to their prior state, and submit weekly reports to the Attorney General detailing the authorized personnel, the number of impacted systems, and the nature of the activity. The IDF is explicitly forbidden from exploiting or retaining any personal information obtained.

The government also greenlit police access to the biometric database, ordinarily used for passports and national ID cards, to hasten the identification of civilian casualties. This move is an overstep of existing legal boundaries that usually forbid such access. Yet given the significant number of casualties, missing individuals, and hostages in captivity, this emergency measure aims to help grieving families with information about the fate of their loved ones. Although families have been asked to provide DNA samples, the procedure can be lengthy.

Also, the Israel National Cyber Directorate issued an urgent call for Israeli citizens and businesses to either disconnect from or restrict internet connectivity to security cameras, particularly those covering sensitive locations. This advisory was prompted by potential threats from actors seeking unauthorized access to these cameras. Such unauthorized access could promote an inadvertent disclosure of intelligence to hostile parties. The Israel National Cyber Directorate offered specific guidelines for camera operators, recommending discontinuing internet connectivity for active cameras, relocating cameras from sensitive sites, implementing rigorous identification measures, and ensuring timely security updates for the devices.

Click here to read the emergency regulations authorizing the IDF to act on computer material used to operate a mobile camera (in Hebrew).

Click here to read the emergency regulations for providing information to identify or verify the identity of an individual or entity and to locate missing persons or captives (in Hebrew).

Click here to read the request from the Israel National Cyber Directorate to disconnect security cameras from the network (in Hebrew).


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