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Israel: Criminalization of Certain Activities Involving Computer Software

(Aug. 21, 2012) On July 10, 2012, the Knesset (Israel's parliament) passed an amendment to the Computers Law, 5755-1995. The Amendment updates the original Computers Law to address criminal activities involving the use of computers and computer software that had not been expressly included in the original 1995 Law.

The Amendment replaces the original prohibition, which had been limited to the drafting and transfer of software that causes harm to a computer, with a list of “prohibited activities” that if perpetrated with an unlawful intention are punishable with three years of imprisonment. Such “prohibited activities” include:

(1) disruption of the proper operation or use of a computer;

(2) erasing computer software or causing any change or disruption in its use;

(3) activities resulting in the issuance of misleading information;

(4) unauthorized penetration into software by connecting with or operating a computer;

(5) secret monitoring as defined by the Secret Monitoring Law, 5739-1979; or

(6) violation of privacy under the Protection of Privacy Law, 5741-1981.

The distribution, offer to the public, penetration, or installation in another person's computer of any password, access code, or any similar information in order to facilitate any of the above activities is punishable by three years of imprisonment. If the distribution, offer, transfer, penetration, or installation utilizes software that was designed to perform any of the above listed “prohibited activities,” the action is punishable by an increased sentence of five years of imprisonment.

According to the explanatory notes of the Computer Draft Law (Amendment) (Prohibited Activities in Software- Expansion of the Prohibition), 5772-2012, the passage of the amendment enables the State of Israel to join the Council of Europe- ETS No. 185- Convention on Cybercrime. (Computers Law, 5755-1995, S.H. 5755 No. 1534 at 366, available at Knesset website; Computers Law (Amendment) 5772-2012, Knesset website; Computer Draft Law (Amendment) (Prohibited Activities in Software – Expansion of the Prohibition), 5772-2012, S.H. 5772 No. 2369, at 514, available at Knesset website [all in Hebrew]; Council of Europe – ETS No. 185- Convention on Cybercrime, Budapest, Nov. 23, 2001, Council of Europe website.)