Center for the Defence of the Individual - Following HaMoked’s demand: the military amended the invasive terms of use of the mobile app enabling Palestinians to check the status of permit requests
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חזרה לעמוד הקודם

Following HaMoked’s demand: the military amended the invasive terms of use of the mobile app enabling Palestinians to check the status of permit requests

About a year ago the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) launched a dedicated mobile application, called the Coordinator (المنسق, Al Munasiq). A celebratory announcement stated the application’s purpose was to improve the service to Palestinian residents. Following the closure of the District Coordination Offices (DCO) due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, many Palestinians were instructed by the military’s civil administration to download the application in order to submit documents, fill forms and access basic and necessary information concerning their lives, including security bans, and extension of stay and entry permits. Following concerns from Palestinians, HaMoked and Att. Adi Lustigman reviewed the application’s terms and conditions of use and discovered that in downloading the application, a user must consent to give access to COGAT and third parties to all personal data, including photos, files, contacts, location and correspondence. Additionally, the terms of use did not include the option to delete information upon the user’s request, unless it did not encumber the application operator or had already been transferred to other entities. These were extremely invasive conditions, enabling unlimited breach of privacy, contrary to those existing in other applications.

Therefore, HaMoked repeatedly wrote to COGAT and the civil administration on the matter, but no substantive response arrived. Meanwhile, over 50,000 people downloaded the application and the instruction to do so was expanded and sometimes even presented as a condition for receiving a stay permit. Other human rights organizations sent a similar demand concerning Palestinians working in Israel who were compelled to use the application to file the required health declaration form.

On May 2020, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice via Att. Adi Lustigman. The petition explained that the application’s terms of use constitute a severe infringement of the users’ right to privacy and dignity, were contrary to Israeli and international law; and compelled Palestinians to disclose information that could be exploited by the occupying power, thus putting them and those close to them at risk.

Following the petition, COGAT announced that the terms of use had been substantively changed, so as to make clear that a person’s consent upon downloading the application relates strictly to the provision of the specific data required for the service in use, and that the application has no access to files, contacts, photos and so on. The terms of use had indeed been altered regarding the most problematic aspects raised by HaMoked.

On May 17, 2020, the HCJ dismissed the petition outright, ruling that HaMoked should have waited longer for the state’s substantive response and that in failing to add individual petitioners, actual harm remained unproven.

Following the judgment, HaMoked asked COGAT to clarify what information was extracted from mobile phones before the terms were changed and to which entities was it transferred, if at all. Additionally, HaMoked asked about the application’s current terms for having information deleted.

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