Court: Impersonation by National Insurance inspectors legal

Judge Meiri: The conduct of the employees taking the pictures does not, on the face of it, constitute a criminal act.

The Tel Aviv District Labor Court has ruled that it is permissible for National Insurance Institute investigators to impersonate the employees of a public body and photographing a person who has applied for, or receives, a disability pension, in order to verify that person's true medical condition.

Judge Sarah Meiri dismissed a request for an injunction filed to prevent the National Insurance Institute from submitting to the medical appeals committee photographs of the plaintiff, taken by investigators. The plaintiff alleged that the photographs were taken in violation of the Criminal Code (Impersonation) and the Protection of Privacy Law (5741-1981) by the investigators who impersonated as Bezeq employees.

The 52-year old widow, is recognized as a victim of terrorism, after she was wounded in a terrorist attack on the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall in Jerusalem in 1997. Her injuries cause her "serious sleeplessness, and traumatic memories, including experiencing the stench and physical sensations of the attack". Since her husband died in 1999, she has suffered from depression and sense of loss. Her health deteriorated in 2008, and she was fired from her job.

The widow applied for a disability pension as a victim of terrorism. The medical committee approved a 50% disability backdated to 1997.

The National Insurance Institute appealed the ruling, and she was summoned to the appeals committee, where she was told that the committee had been given a disk with pictures, including video clips of her outside her home and on the street, taken when she was moving to a new apartment. The disk also included pictures of her taken outside her apartment by investigators posing as Bezeq employees, who were positioned in the building's stairwell.

Judge Meiri ruled, "The conduct of the employee/s taking the pictures does not, on the face of it, constitute a criminal act. At issue is a public employee, an employee of agency A, presenting himself as an employee of agency B." The judge pointed out that the Criminal Code bans impersonation for the purpose of fraud, whereas an investigator "has no intention of defrauding the claimant in the criminal intent of the law, but to mislead and/or to lower her alertness."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on August 2, 2009

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2009

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