Poll Reuters

Israel is on track to eliminate an entire class of criminals – people who refuse to participate in polls and studies of the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Inundated by requests to participate in “polls” that often turn out to be commercial or political come-ons, many Israelis hang up the phone when they are called up and asked for their “opinion” on “the need for upgraded health care” or “your thoughts on leadership issues.”

But if they hang up on a representative of the CBS, they are technically committing a crime. Currently, refusing to participate in CBS studies and polls – the results of which are used to set policy, interest rates, government regulations, and a host of other things – is a crime.

The Knesset is moving to change that, however, and on Wednesday, a preliminary bill to remove the criminal penalties for refusing to participate in polls was approved by the Knesset. Individuals who refuse to supply personal information to the CBS will be exempted from punishment – unless they refuse to participate in polls for a period of at least five years, if they are asked to do so.

Thirty three MKs voted for the bill, and one voted against. The bill will now be sent back to committee for preparation for its second and third reading.

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