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Daily Israel Report

Bill Would End 'Cellphone Spam' in Israel

Annoying text messages seeking donations in return for 'blessings' may soon be a thing of the past.
By Moshe Cohen
First Publish: 6/8/2014, 4:32 PM

Annoying spam messages will soon be a thing of the past
Annoying spam messages will soon be a thing of the past
Thinkstock

Every Israeli gets them – sometimes numerous times a day. Organizations send out text messages (SMS) on cellphone networks promising spiritual and material blessings, often in return for a “donation,” or a phone call to an organization, where a fast-talking salesperson will assure the caller that a “great Rabbi” will issue a blessing in return for a donation – or, if the potential donor is reluctant to give, perhaps the opposite.

All that is set to come to an end soon, after the Ministerial Law Committee approved an update to Israel's anti-spam laws.

Until now, spam emails - unwanted messages advertising all manner of (often undesirable) things - are illegal, and companies that sent “advertisement” messages via e-mail were required to offer recipients an option to end the messages. The update will make text message spam illegal as well, and require advertisers to provide an opt-out option as well.

The proposal would see fines of NIS 1,000 imposed on spammers for each instance of spam received by “customers.”

According to MK Miki Rosenthal, one of the bill update's sponsors, “the current laws are not sufficient to deal with this issue.

Non-profit organizations have been taking advantage of loopholes to send unwarranted amounts of spam. We intend to put an end to this. I, like everyone else, get these annoying messages every day, and I thank Communications Minister Gilad Erdan and the other ministers who have expressed support for this bill.”