New regulations to restrict police use of 'Big Brother Law'

New limits placed on access to private information.

menahem ben sasson (photo credit: Courtesy
menahem ben sasson
(photo credit: Courtesy
Regulations on implementing the Communications Data Law that limit police access to information obtained by cellular and Internet companies were approved by the Knesset Law Committee on Thursday. The Communications Data Law, also known as the "Big Brother Law," was approved in December 2007 and allows the police to easily obtain information about anyone in Israel from the cellular and Internet companies to establish a national data pool. The new regulations determine that from the moment the data pool is established, the police will not be allowed to ask the companies for information that includes names, ID numbers, addresses and phone numbers without a specific court order. The Law Committee learned during its deliberations that the police has been asking for and receiving information from private telephone and Internet companies about certain people without presenting court orders, despite the requirement of the Communications Data Law that it do so. "The law as it is today is open to a broad interpretation and therefore approving the regulations today narrows it down," committee chairman Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima) said on Thursday. "The committee has completed the legislative work needed to give the police the tools to use this law properly and legally." Ben-Sasson demanded that the police and the government operate in accordance with the regulations from the moment the date pool is established. He stressed that this new tool could assist the police but could also be misused and therefore he urged the representatives of the communication companies to report on irregular requests from the police, in addition to assist it in establishing the data reservoir.