A bill which would require internet service providers to block access to pornographic websites by default and keep track of internet users who request access to the sites received preliminary backing by a Knesset panel on Sunday.
Customers would have to personally contact their internet providers, either in writing, by phone, or online, to have the block removed, resulting in the creation of lists of all internet users who have made the request to access porn sites.
Originally proposed by MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli from the Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, it was also sponsored by lawmakers from across the political spectrum, including MKs from Likud, Zionist Union, Yesh Atid, United Torah Judaism, and the Joint (Arab) List.
The only party which refused to support the bill was left-wing Meretz.
“The damaging influence of watching, and addiction to, pornographic and severe violence has been proven in many studies, with great harm to children,” said Moalem-Refaeli in support of the bill. “Today, it is easier for a child to consume harsh content on the internet than to buy an ice cream at the local kiosk.”
The text of the bill refers to the “negative side of the internet which includes gambling, violence, pornography, pedophilia and more, which are apt to harm the public who are exposed to them, especially children.”
According to the bill, 60 percent of Israeli children between the ages of nine and fifteen have already been exposed to internet pornography. The bill cites “a number of reports” and studies of children hurt by exposure to harmful or sexual content on the internet, causing long-term damage.
“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,” the text concludes.
However, Jonathan Klinger, an attorney from the Digital Rights Movement, warned that the bill would infringe upon free speech and right to privacy.
“The Ministerial Committee for Legislation today added the State of Israel to a list of countries that censor the internet, joining China, Iran, Turkey and other non-democratic countries,” he said. “Under the guise of protecting children, the state promotes invasion of privacy by creating a database of blacklists.”