Israeli Lawmakers Delay Action on Bill That Would Require Security Cameras at Day Cares

The delay follows objections from Attorney General Mendelblit over concerns about invasion of privacy and data leaks

The Petah Tikva day-care center where a 14-month old girl died in June 2018.
Meged Gozani

The debate on a bill that would allow the installation of security cameras in day-care centers and preschools was put off for two weeks by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday because Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit had concerns over possible invasions of privacy and data leaks in the bill’s approach. During the next two weeks, the relevant ministries are to work to come up with a formulation on which there is a consensus, the committee decided.

The bill, which is sponsored by MK Yifat Shasha-Biton (Kulanu), aims at allowing the presence of the security cameras so that footage from them can be used by police, with the approval of a judge, in investigating criminal wrongdoing, particularly over abuse of children by caregivers. Neither parents nor anyone else would be given access to the cameras in real time.

Explanatory notes accompanying the bill state that in recent years hundreds of cases have been opened in Israel over suspected violence by staff of day-care centers and preschools, but that 90 percent of the cases were closed due to lack of evidence. “The cameras may be the only evidence that can lead to conviction,” the notes say.

This week prosecutors charged a temporary resident from Ukraine, Ina Skivenko, who was employed as a child care worker at a Petah Tikva day care center, with manslaughter and abuse in the death of Yasmin Vinta, a 14-month-old girl in her care.

The proposed bill would require the installation of cameras at every preschool with at least three children, whether privately owned or under state supervision.

The labor and social affairs minister would be required to issue regulations regarding how the cameras would be installed and how people would be informed of their existence, as well as how video footage would be preserved and safeguarded. The original bill calls for the installation of cameras at other institutions serving vulnerable populations, including the elderly. Attorney General Mendelblit objected to the bill over possible invasion of privacy and the difficulty of preventing leaks from the video database that would be created. He said, however, that he might support a different draft that would still help prevent harm to young children.

“We’re talking about a breakthrough,” said Shasha-Biton, after the committee’s decision to delay the debate. “I believe we can come up with a formula that all the parties can live with.”

In a related development, last week Labor and Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz announced that he is examining the placement of security cameras in all early childhood settings. According to Katz, cameras in preschools would address the problem of a lack of other sources of evidence in investigating wrongdoing there while also protecting staff members from false allegations.