After Jeff Pulver wrote about it (and quoted me, i feel important), I feel more than obliged to write about it as well.
In Brief, Ultraorthodox party Shas currently holds two major positions in the Israeli Government, The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Employment and the Ministry of Telecommunication. Ariel Attias, The Minister of Telecommunication, is a young Ultraorthodox, serving his first term in the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament). Parliament Member Amnon Cohen is also a member of Shas, serving as a representative since 1999, acting as a Deputy Chairman for the Parliament and served in various positions in the past, including the parliament Monetary Committee and the Parliament’s Committee for Children’s Rights.
Last July Cohen submitted a Draft of Adult Websites’ Access Limiting Act (2006) which was phrased in a very brief, improfessional way. According to the Statute, which was already passed the preliminary vote 25:0, An Internet Service Provider MUST block all access to all websites whose main business is Violence, Gambling or Sexual Content unless Biometric Identification concluded that the Internet User is an Adult. The Statute has been brought, after the preliminary vote, to the Parliament’s Committee for Economic Affairs.
The Statute itself is quite brief and inconculding. It does not explain how such Biometric data be taken, and who will manage the database. The Statute does not determine who is considered an Adult (the Israeli Law includes quite a few ages of consent) and will all traffic be blocked on a “White-List” basis or a “Black-List” basis. The Draft also does not explain what is considered an “Adult Website”, i.e: Is a website whose main business is sexual instruction considered adult or is a website with Gay content considered one.
I need not to explain what is wrong with allowing (or mandating) ISPs in holding Biometric Identification Databases, These databases are currently being held only by the Israeli Police and contain only information regarding Suspects, Convicted Felons and Evidence found in crimescenes. Data regarding suspects is deleted after suspects’ acquittal. These databases can only be accessed by Israel’s Security Authorities and may only be used for solving crimes or preventing them. What are the uses of the Biometric Identification held at the ISPs? god only knows.
Holding a list of visited websites also infers that ISPs may be subpeonad to disclose private information regarding one’s browsing habits, when needed for measures by private entities; Holding a database of such private sensitive information may also bring revenue to ISPs who sell this information since the statute does not contain any privacy clauses.
The Criminal Punishment brought on any ISP providing unmonitored access to adult websites may be one year incarceration and a fine of 20,000 NIS (5,000 US$) as well as revoking his license for six months. It is not certain how the Ultraorthodox party plans to put an ISP in prison, but I am certain they have their Ideas.
Please take note that this statute refers only to “Websites”, while most Adult Content derives from P2P traffic, and most physical damage to minors derives from Chats. It is also not certain that the Statute is enforceable or obtainable. An Average Geek knows how to operate a proxy server and how to circumvent usual Internet blocking.
Our major concern, as Israeli Bloggers, is that this statute is just the tip of the iceberg in a deliberate plan to block our freedom of Speech, Employment and Information. It is clear that defining adult websites is impossible, and that blocking websites under the “adult” category may lead to shutting down the internet in Israel.
During the last week we have been working intensively on arranging an opposition in the Parliament for the Statute by grouping Internet reporters, Legal Experts, Bloggers and Industry Leaders. However, the absence of an Israeli EFF is an obstacle. We do not have the financial backing to stop this, and we do not have sufficient influence on political decisionmakers. I was interviewed last Friday regarding the subject and today i was scheduled to appear on a debate with Israel’s Minister of Telecommunication; however, the Israeli Channel 1 decided to hold a debate on a different matter and called my appearance off.
We need the help of everyone possible to stop this; Israel is currently the only real democracy in the Middle East (with Human Rights) and the Ultraorthodox parties here wish to detach us from that and turn into another fundamentalist country.
Please digg this item, post it on Slashdoict or even copy it straightforward to your blog (under a cc-by-sa license)
Gilad Lotan, Internet Censorship Law Proposal In Israel
Dave Lucas, Internet Censorship Coming To Israel?
Blonde 2.0, Internet Censorship In Israel?
Hebrew Links Here at Hanan Cohen’s Info.org.il
Jonathan Klinger is a Cyberights attorney and a Bachelor of Law, Government, Diplomacy and Strategy. He is currently studying for his LL.M and is the Spokesperson of the Israeli Bloggers Coalition against the Censorship Statute.