Travelers who enter Israel via the international Ben-Gurion Airport, especially those who aren’t Israeli citizens, can be asked by Shin Bet (the country’s security agency) officers to provide access to their email accounts in order to be allowed to enter the country.
According to RT, the practice is not new – in fact, it is permitted by the General Security Service Law – but has been recently sanctioned again by Israel Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.
He says that the officers don’t require users to share their passwords, just to open their accounts on site and let the officers peruse them.
He also pointed out that such searched are performed only “in exceptional instances, after other relevant incriminating indications are found.”
Israeli civil right advocates protest against the practice, saying that even though travelers have the legal right to decline the request for having their email searched, they will likely be denied permission to enter the country.
“Such ‘consent’, given under threat of deportation, cannot serve as a basis for such a drastic invasion of privacy,” commented Lila Margalit, an attorney with the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, adding that this invasive procedure is not befitting of a democracy.
But Weinstein says that a person who is not a citizen of Israel has “no vested right to enter Israel,” and should not expect to be automatically granted entry.