New Bill Targets Internet Users who Post Libelous Content

The Knesset approves the first reading of a bill that would revealing the information of an internet user who causes damage to another.

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Elad Benari,

Zevulun Orlev
Zevulun Orlev
Flash 90

The Knesset approved on Monday the first reading of a bill that would allow revealing the personal information of a subscriber of an electronic communications network.

According to the bill, submitted by MK Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home), a person who believes that content posted online anonymously has done him wrong or is an infringement of intellectual property can ask the court to order the service provider to hand over the information of the subscriber who published the content. Once such a request is presented to the subscriber, he will be able to anonymously inform the court within 20 days whether he accepts the request or objects to it.

The court will be able to grant the request if it believes that it was submitted to allow the applicant to conduct a legal proceeding or exhaust his rights, and if it believes that the content may be have caused damage to or breached the intellectual property of the applicant.

According to the bill, before approaching the court the person who believes that he was hurt by the online content will be allowed to contact the service provider and receive from it, without due process, an identification that will allow to locate the computer from which the content was published, provided that the applicant declares that he is requesting the information only to conduct a legal proceeding and that he undertakes not to use the information other than in legal proceedings. In addition, the applicant may contact the service provider and inform it of his intention to ask the court to expose the subscriber’s information. The provider will then notify the subscriber and ask his consent to release that information.

Nine Knesset members supported the bill and one MK opposed it. The bill will be returned to the Knesset’s Science and Technology Committee, where it will be prepared for a second and third reading.

The bill was approved one week after the Knesset approved the first reading of an amendment to the libel law.

The amendment seeks to raise the compensation for libel to 300,000 shekels, six times the amount currently prescribed by law, even without proof of damage. The court will be allowed to double the compensation to 600,000 shekels if it is convinced that the libel caused damage.

In addition, the bill would require the offending media outlet to publish a retraction, and the full response of the injured party, within what the law defines as “reasonable time.” In case such a reaction is not published, the injured party could receive compensation of up to 1.5 million shekels.