Likud calls on Justice Ministry to probe Yesh Atid over abuse of privacy law
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Likud calls on Justice Ministry to probe Yesh Atid over abuse of privacy law

Opposition party accused of sending out email blast to recipients whose private information was illegally collected

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid heads a faction meeting at the Knesset on January 1, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid heads a faction meeting at the Knesset on January 1, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Likud party on Wednesday called on the Justice Ministry to launch an investigation against the Yesh Atid party for violation of the state’s Protection of Privacy Law.

In a letter to the head of the ministry’s Privacy Protection Authority, Likud legal adviser Avi Halevi cited a mass email sent earlier this week in Yair Lapid’s name in which the Yesh Atid chairman accused the government of attempting to close down the country on the Sabbath.

Halevy referenced a recent interview  given by one of the email’s unsuspecting recipients to Israeli media in which he expressed frustration over Yesh Atid’s apparent retrieval of his personal details without his knowledge. The recipient said he had never signed up for party emails.

“The circumstances of the case seem to raise suspicions that MK Yair Lapid’s announcement illegally used private databases in violation of the provisions of the Protection of Privacy Law,” Halevi wrote.

Yesh Atid rejected the accusations.

“The Prime Minister’s Office has clearly stopped dealing with the management of the country because they are too busy spreading lies and slandering others,” it said in a statement.

“All the emails which are sent from Yesh Atid are sent to people who asked to receive them and were listed in legally listed databases. At the end of every email is an option to unsubscribe for anyone who no longer wishes to receive the emails.”

The Likud legal adviser added that this wasn’t the first time such allegations were made against the opposition party.

Illustrative: Members of the Likud party central committee vote during a gathering of the Likud Central Committee in Tel Aviv in 2013. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

In May, the Justice Ministry fined Yesh Atid NIS 40,000 ($11,000) for using “sensitive” personal information on Israeli Holocaust survivors for political campaigning purposes during the 2015 election.

Yesh Atid used the information to campaign to survivors, including through direct mail, the ministry said, in what it described as an illegal breach of the survivors’ privacy.

The party then said in a statement the incident was a “one-time mishap done during an election campaign, in good faith, and with no knowledge that the practice is improper.”

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