Bill to ensure cleaner internet passes hurdle

Legislation requiring ISPs to filter out inappropriate internet content appears to enjoy strong backing.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Courtesy of Moshe Friedman

The bill to automatically filter the internet in Israel came one step closer to becoming law on Sunday, when the Knesset Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted to promote the initiative of MK Shuli Mualem (Jewish Home).

The proposed legislation would require all Israeli internet service providers (ISPs) to automatically filter any pornographic or violent content unless a customer specifically requests that sites containing such content be unfiltered. The bill passed the Ministerial Committee for Legislation without any opposition.

Previous legislation to deal with the widespread access to inappropriate content online had merely mandated that ISPs provide customers with the option to place filters on their internet service, rather than mandating that the filters be used by default.

When promoting her legislation, Mualem said, "The terrible influence of watching and becoming addicted to pornography and violence has been proven in several studies, and the damage to children is especially great. Today it's easier for a child to watch damaging internet videos than it is for him to buy a popsicle from the neighborhood kiosk. We need to limit access to these sites and programs, so that the default will be filtered internet, unless the client requests otherwise."

Mualem's bill has garnered support from across the political spectrum. Among the MKs who signed it are MKs from Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home), Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union), Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu), Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu), Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid), Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beitenu), Mordhay Yogev (Jewish Home), Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), Yifat Shasha-Biton (Kulanu), Uri Maklev (UTJ), Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint Arab List), David Bitan (Likud), Nava Boker (Likud), Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid), Yakov Margi (Shas), Ahmad Tibi (Joint Arab List), Menachem Eliezer Moses (UTJ), Moshe Gafni (UTJ), Roy Folkman (Kulanu), Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Union), Avraham Neguise (Likud), Yoav Ben-Tzur (Shas), and Abdullah Abu Maaruf (Joint Arab List).

The proposed legislation states: "In the past decade, the internet has turned the world into a global village and has allowed users access to a wide variety of information. Most of this information has a positive aspect to it, such as education, science, technology, trade, economics, and more. However, there is also a negative side to the internet which includes gambling, violence, pornography, pedophilia and more, which are apt to harm the public who are exposed to them, especially children."

"In the past few years there has been an increase in the number of reports of children who were hurt by exposure to sexual and harmful materials on the internet. Hundreds of studies in Israel and around the world document and study the different types of long-term damage caused by exposure to these materials.

"60% of Israeli children between the ages of nine and fifteen have been exposed to internet pornography. 47% of Israeli children have a computer in their bedroom, which they use to search the internet and which makes them more likely to fall victim to pedophiles, since their parents are not supervising their activities....therefore, the suggested law places the burden on the internet providers and requires them to provide, as a default, filtered internet to all of their clients which will block sites and materials considered to be harmful, and without charging extra fees."