Daily Israel Report

Phony Name Use on Internet Could Cost NIS 100,000

New law would fine internet impersonators up to NIS 100,000
By David Lev
First Publish: 2/20/2012, 9:53 PM

IDF computer operations room
IDF computer operations room
Flash 90

A new law proposed by National Union chairman MK Ya'akov Katz (Ketzaleh), along with MKs Otniel Schneller (Kadima), Yariv Levin (Likud), and Danny Danon (Likud), would slap an NIS 100,000 fine on individuals who pretend to be well-known personalities when they post messages on internet forums.

Posters on these forums (known as “talkbackers” in Israel) are generally free to write what they want on internet forums, which are usually very laxly, if at all, regulated by webmasters. As a result, use of “phony” identities by surfers is very common, as is use of well-known identities belonging to celebrities, politicians, sports stars, and other public figures. While most individuals who use these names do not cause any harm, several may be hurting the reputation of the celebrity they have “adopted.” This, the MKs said, is unacceptable, and they intend to address it with legislation.

“Today, a great deal of communication is done virtually, and there is a great deal of importance in the way individuals present themselves online,” the MKs wrote in a codicil attached to the bill. “Using the identity of another person online damages the victim: his person, his good name, and even his self-identity.”

Current laws on online identity theft kick in only if someone uses another person's name to commit a crime. The new law would expand the criminality of online identity theft, to the extent that an individual could be found guilty just for using a well-known person's name.

The law will be presented to the appropriate Knesset committees and be ready for its first Knesset reading in several weeks, the MKs said.