December 28, 2012 : ISRAELI CRACKDOWN ON INTERNET USE
Freedom of the internet advocates liken government's latest moves to authoritarian regimes
According to the publication Haaretz, freedom of the Internet bodies are deeply concerned over draconian laws restricting the internet that are allegedly being prepared by the government for implementation in 2013.
The legalization apparently formalises the authority given to the police in 2010 to issue ISP blocking orders, along with associated clauses that hardly sound democratic.
One legal source told Haaretz that under the new legalization police officers were empowered to issue a blocking order to ISPs if there were indications that gambling or pornography was being offered by a particular website, and that a prior court order was not necessary.
The period of validity of such an order would be limited, but could be extended in a subsequent court hearing where it would not be required that the website owner or operator be advised of the nature of the evidence against him or her, thus denying the right to challenge and test such police evidence.
ISPs ordered to block a site would have the facility of recording an objection, which the police could consider but were not required specifically to act upon.
The source suggested that if this sort of legalization was allowed to pass, Israel would be no better than authoritarian countries notorious for censoring the Internet such as China and Iran, and warned that authority to censor in this manner inevitably was used as a political weapon..
Israel's Supreme Court is still studying a government appeal against a ruling by a lower Israeli court earlier this year that police officers lacked the legal authority to make such orders, and that ISPs therefore were not obliged to obey them.
The police orders impacted several international online gambling companies at the time and were challenged by Internet freedom advocates.
Although Israel is a major centre for online gambling software development and associated commercial activity, it is illegal to gamble online within the country; sports betting is possible through the local betting board, and a national lottery is available for punters.