A new eavesdropping system recently operationalized by the Israeli police saved only partial recordings and possibly obstructed ongoing criminal investigations and cases.
According to a report in Israel Hayom, in light of the malfunctions, the prosecution sent letters to defense attornies notifying them of the problem.
The Justice Ministry and Israel Police recently held several consultation meetings regarding the legal consequences of system failures on the poorly recorded evidence, consequences which are still unknown.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir notified the Police Commissioner and Attorney General that he would have to declassify the system if the glitch continued.
In June 2022, Israel Police began using the classified listening system, which switched out an older one. The device is meant to record the conversations of suspect criminals per court warrants.
In contrast with the spyware that was exposed by the Calcalist newspaper that, according to the team for examining inter-computer communications eavesdropping, was at times used illegally, this new system had legal authorization. But only two months after it began to be used, it was found to be plagued by glitches and had only partially recorded conversations that were at times vital to criminal investigations and at times served as the basis for indictments that had already been submitted.
The malfunctions began at the same time as the media storm regarding the NSO eavesdropping software. Although the issue at the time was at the center of public discourse, the law enforcement establishment did not notify the Public Security Ministers of it, not the previous minister Omer Bar-Lev nor his successor Itamar Ben-Gvir. Only recently, after the letter was sent to the defense attornies, was Ben-Gvir notified of the issue by a law enforcement official.
Minister Ben-Gvir sent a furious letter to Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, stating: "You needed to update me when the glitch was discovered." He expressed protest over the fact that he even met with Deputy Attorney General Amit Merari and senior police officials, and they did not update him.
"I held a discussion about the findings of the inquiry into the NSO software with police and Justice Ministry officials, and now I learn that at the same time, officials knew about glitches in the system, and they didn't bother updating me," wrote Ben-Gvir. The meeting was held recently between the minister, senior police officials, and Deputy Marari, and discussed the Pegasus software.
The Justice Ministry replied that the system was being repaired and that the update regarding police operations needed to come from the organization responsible. Ben-Gvir responded that they should continue updating him on the matter, and even if other glitches are found, he will not sign the confidentiality certification.
Israel Police stated: "In June 2022, a new eavesdropping system, which switched an old one, was introduced. As part of its implementation, a small number of technical bugs were found, which were brought to the attention of the prosecution and the Justice Ministry. The police, in coordination with the prosecution, are working on reducing and fixing the technological bugs. The system was checked and validated by authorized officials, and its use was lawful."