“So? You’ve won” I was told today when the minister of telecommunications, Ariel Atias, notified that he will submit a “Softer” version of the Israeli Censorship act. The problem began when I explained that this is another spin after a “Soft” version was submitted a year ago, and no one thought it was soft (If you can read Hebrew, I suggest you read the interview that Doron Fishler had with me at Nana while I was driving back from Jerusalem).
It’s crucial to understand that in spite of the minister’s claims that no filtering will be made by default, the bill does determine that if you do not answer your ISP’s question whether you wish to filter content or not, you will not be able to access the internet (with one exemption, which is sort of a small victory, regarding existing customers, they will not be filtered).
The question of biometric identification remained open. The minister is still authorised to determine the means who will identify a person as an adult. As long as a person will have to identify itself against its ISP, there is a hatch to allow access to Israel’s establishment of a biometric database (which is currently in establishment) and allow the ISPs to access it by defining them as “Public”.
Moreover, the whole thing around User Generated Content (which Atias avoided) did not get the right attention.Most likely, Atias acknowledges that ISP based filtering (meaning, all of Israel’s traffic will be filtered) has some negative results and that the “Public committee” he established will have to set criterias to filter user generated content, including Israel’s most popular websites.
And maybe the worst problem was that the ISPs did not arrive to today’s discussion while the bill may incur heavy expenses on them. Maybe they know that this fight has to move on to the supreme court. The Parliament members just don’t listen. They just make it hard (and still use the “Protect The Children” dialect while they know that no one will be protected under this bill)
Maybe we were wrong when we intervened in the original bill and started a riot. Maybe the right move was to allow the bill to pass with all the biometric identification, with the central apparatus, with shaming lists, that way the supreme court would have seen it as obvious and we wouldn’t have to explain to him how bad this bill is. Now, with the new version of the bill and all the spins around it, it’s a hard job to explain the unconstitutionality of this bill, but it remains unconstitutional.