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Israel airport security 'allowed to read tourists' email'
Published Wednesday 24/04/2013 (updated) 26/04/2013 10:26
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An Israeli border policeman stands next to the international arrivals
board at Ben Gurion airport. (AFP/David Buimovitch, File)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli security officials at Ben Gurion airport are legally allowed to demand access to tourists' email accounts and deny them entry if they refuse, the country's top legal official said on Wednesday.

Details of the policy were laid out by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein in a written response to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the group said in a statement.

In June 2012, ACRI's Lila Margalit wrote to the attorney general demanding clarification following media reports about security officials demanding access to tourists' email accounts before allowing them into the country.

"In a response dated April 24, 2013, the attorney general's office confirmed this practice," ACRI said, quoting sections of the document which said it was only done in exceptional cases where "relevant suspicious signs" were evident and only done with the tourist's "consent".

"However, the attorney general's office also noted that while a tourist may refuse such a search, 'it will be made clear to him that his refusal will be taken into consideration along with other relevant factors, in deciding whether to allow him entry to Israel'," it continued.

ACRI slammed the policy as a "drastic invasion of privacy" heaping scorn on the idea a tourist could freely give their consent while facing the threat of possible deportation if they refused.

"A tourist who has just spent thousands of dollars to travel to Israel, only to be interrogated at the airport by Shin Bet (domestic security) agents and told to grant access to their email account, is in no position to give free and informed consent," Margalit said.

"Such 'consent' -- given under threat of deportation -- cannot serve as a basis for such a drastic invasion of privacy," she said.

"Allowing security agents to take such invasive measures at their own discretion and on the basis of such flimsy 'consent' is not befitting of a democracy."
1 ) ian / australia
24/04/2013 23:59
Uh oh

2 ) Philip Wildman / USA
25/04/2013 00:21
Israel is realistic about Muslim extremists, border security. Obama is not.

3 ) Julie / USA
25/04/2013 00:53
compared to other places of travel in the world, few want to go to izrael...and even FEWER will travel to izrael now! good job shooting yourself in the foot AGAIN izrael, this and crimes are the only things you're good at.

4 ) BDS / Apartheid
25/04/2013 01:00
Who would want to go to israel...Its Full of theives,cheats liars,killers,crazies

5 ) JoeUSA / USA
25/04/2013 02:30
A bit draconian don't you think. Wouldn't it be prudent just to deny having an e-mail account , so you do not have to face the pressure to cough up your password?.....

6 ) Better invade privacy / than die
25/04/2013 08:56
on the plane no?!

7 ) Colin Wright / USA
25/04/2013 10:27
Another human rights milestone for Israel. Still, considering all the international travelers who have committed terrorist attacks within Israel in the last year, I suppose it's justified.

8 ) Hilmi / Malaysia
25/04/2013 11:17
This is rubbish....

9 ) southparkbear / usa
25/04/2013 11:22
got an idea, trouble makers should visit other countries

10 ) Wrollwell College / UK
25/04/2013 12:14
Those legitimate tourists with nothing to hide, will have no problem ensuring their own safety within Israel. This is only an issue for provocateurs and others, including ISM

11 ) Paul / Turdrovia
25/04/2013 12:17
Social profiling in Israel is paramount to ensure the safety of her population.

12 ) Mon / USA/UK
25/04/2013 17:18
@Colin Wright - what international travelers committed terrorist attacks within Israel last year??? It's opinions like that which are based on fear not facts that justify violations of civil and human rights. Considering how many terrorist attempts there are against the US you would think American security forces would be the first to start demanding to see people's emails but they don't because they know they are hardly going to find an email from someone saying "so about that bomb...".

13 ) Mon / USA/UK
25/04/2013 17:28
Btw, I am a legitimate tourist with nothing to hide-I actively promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict. I have Jewish friends in Tel Aviv and Muslim/Christian friends in Bethlehem. I'm going over there next week to relax on the beach, catch up with friends, eat amazing Middle Eastern food,etc. But if Israeli security search my emails and see I've been talking to Palestinians on fb they can accuse me of being a terrorist and deport me, even though all my friends are peace activists as well!

14 ) #7 How stupid / Crass comment
25/04/2013 20:06
#7 How many would you propose would be legitimate, 1, or any number of attacks between one or ten. Or would you like some international travelers or perhaps a member of your family travelling on a flight that had a suicide bomber on board because they were not vetted by social profiling?

15 ) RadickTV / M?xico
26/04/2013 01:05
Now they can read our emails, like north korea. Democracy? hahaha sure.

16 ) David / UK
26/04/2013 01:37
Nothing to hide! Israel try and hide the real truth that they are murders intent of only one thing. Eliminating any living being in Gaza. Such action since 1948 is worse than what happened the them under Hitler. So much for being God fearing people. The problems in this area of the world is because of their action.A trult pariah state, and I'm a Christian!

17 ) Khaled / Palestine
26/04/2013 08:47
Open the emails of Israeli citizens elsewhere.

18 ) Colin Wright / USA
26/04/2013 14:35
To Mon #12: If you were more familiar with my posts, you'd realize I was being sarcastic. Scan down to #14: he picked up on it, alright.

19 ) Colin Wright / USA
26/04/2013 14:37
To #14. 'Or would you like some international travelers or perhaps a member of your family travelling on a flight that had a suicide bomber on board because they were not vetted by social profiling?' As a matter of fact, I would prefer to take that chance.

20 ) Colin Wright / USA
26/04/2013 14:40
To JoeUSA #5 'A bit draconian don't you think. Wouldn't it be prudent just to deny having an e-mail account , so you do not have to face the pressure to cough up your password?.....' That does kind of let the cat out of the bag, doesn't it? After all, a serious terrorist -- not that any have tried flying in via Ben Gurion lately -- would certainly take care to strip his computer of evidence of his intentions. This is a measure to detect dissidents.

21 ) Robert / US
26/04/2013 17:04
Israel is looking to stop peace activist

22 ) JoeUSA / USA
27/04/2013 00:10
#21 , indeed Israel wishes to stop PEACE , anyway and with any measure , it can.

23 ) ian / australia
27/04/2013 01:27
Travels tips for terrorists: 1. Delete history (and favourites). 2. Make "Jerusalem Post" my homepage. 3. Create new email account and send emails expressing admiration for writings of Caroline Glick and Pamela Geller. 4. Have a great flight.

24 ) Outlier / USA
27/04/2013 05:27
Paramount in all this is one fact; Israel has a right to security. However, this approach seems slightly extreme.

25 ) How stupid / Crass comment
27/04/2013 08:11
#19 You may wish to take a chance, the aviation industry and the Jewish state of Israel does not.

26 ) Colin Wright / USA
27/04/2013 09:34
To southparkbear #9: "got an idea, trouble makers should visit other countries' This is a common sentiment in repressive police states. However, not all of them hold sites important to two of the world's major religions.

27 ) ian / australia
27/04/2013 09:55
All quite odd when you think about it. Israel announces that to intercept terrorists and other threats it can now read your email at the airport (or refuse entry). Terrorists presumably make mental note to self: don't arrive with incriminating emails, change password to I-Heart-Israel and add CarolineGlick.com to favorites. It's absurd. Anyone with something to hide would hide it (esp. after a public anouncement!) (Travel guides could include it in tips: "It's best to remove anything critical of

28 ) ian / australia
27/04/2013 10:08
(contd.) of Israel from your computer. Have a great trip.") It's clearly not about security. Israel doesn't fear peacenik tourists and their scathing emails. Dissidents don't scare them either. (Israel, in reality, fears noone.) So what's going on? It's NOTHING to do with securing borders or protecting people: it's the entirely cynical manufacture of a political environmemt of paranoia and fear to (a) keep Israelis convinced they're in danger, (b) reinforce the myth of Israel's vulnerability,

29 ) ian / australia
27/04/2013 10:08
(contd.) and (c) keep critics and Palestinians in general, angry, frustrated and in a perfect world, violent. Devious? Indubitably. But what else makes sense? Nothing I can think of.

30 ) USLawyer / United States
27/04/2013 19:30
The US reserves the right to do this as well to anyone trying to enter the US from outside. Before you cross into the US, your laptop and emails are subject to "review".

31 ) US citizen / US
28/04/2013 00:44
# 30 Jews included ?. All cards on the table..

32 ) fourbytwo / UK
28/04/2013 11:26
#30 Well of course the USA does, your iPad is no different from your passport, contents of suitcase, and content of an old fashioned address book being monitored.

33 ) USLawyer. / USA
29/04/2013 09:36
To # 30: are you serious? Of course it applies to everyone. To #31: I was not expressing surprise or even criticism. When you are outside the US, you do not have the same Constitutional rights. I was merely pointing out, this is a common practice. Israel and many states do this.

34 ) Preciosa / Portugal
29/04/2013 21:13
Can someone tell me which countries can "invade" your privacy when entering with a laptop, iphone etc...when entering their territory. Thanks

35 ) US citizen / US
29/04/2013 23:52
#33 then we should do it here for people coming from israel and elsewhere instead of giving them" Fastrack Entry" we have to keep out Terrorist right ?.

36 ) USLawyer / USA
01/05/2013 03:46
To #35: The US reserves the right to do it to EVERYONE. That has already been through the court system. It has absolutely nothing to do with fast track entry - quick or slow, on any passport at all, including a US passport, they can read your email. They look at whatever computer they feel like and they can take the computer if they feel like it too and keep it as long as they like. That is the LAW in the US. This is nothing special. BTW, every Arab state has the same as well as many EU.
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