The Justice Ministry is seeking to significantly expand the number of government agencies authorized to track the moves of citizens for investigation purposes, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday.
The new legislation would grant the Antiquities Authority, the Nature and Parks Authority and the Environmental Protection Ministry, among others, permission to tap Israelis' phones and computers.
The bill aims to amend a law from 2007 that regulates the authorities' ability to seize individuals' records from companies that provide communication services. The law enables the relevant agencies to apply for tracking warrants; if granted by the court, these warrants allow officials to eavesdrop on suspects' phone conversations and go through their text messages, e-mails and computer files.
The law currently applies to the Shin Bet, the police and the military police, as well as the Securities, Antitrust and Tax authorities. The Justice Ministry claims that expanding the legislation to additional agencies would bolster their law enforcement abilities.
The Agriculture Ministry and the Director of Security of the Defense Establishment would also be among the government bodies allowed access to personal information if the amendment is ratified.
The revised legislation would not only apply to suspected felonies, as does the original law, but also to misdemeanors, a move that could expose a wider array of citizens to tracking.
Antiques thieves are just one example of the type of criminal that could be exposed if the law is amended, according to a source in the Judiciary. Moreover, illegal hunters could be tracked by the GPS devices in their phones, he said.
The proposed legislation is expected to be put up for the Knesset's approval by the end of the year.
Attorney Avner Pinchuk of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel
said that the bill is "puzzling and disconcerting."
ACRI and the Bar Association have petitioned the High Court of Justice against the original law.
Attorney Dan Hay of the Bar Association added: "This expansion hurts the citizens. At first we dubbed this law 'Big Brother.' Now it appears it is amassing more and more brothers."
He noted that it is inappropriate for the Justice Ministry to attempt to amend a law that is the subject of an ongoing High Court petition.
Telem Yahav contributed to the report