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Israel: ISP Notification and Screening of Harmful Websites and Content

(Apr. 7, 2011) On March 30, 2011, the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) passed an amendment to the Telecommunications Law, 5742-1982. The amendment authorizes the Minister of Communications to issue guidelines to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) on their duty to inform subscribers of harmful websites and content on the Internet and to offer subscribers timely and effective screening services against such material at no additional cost. For the purpose of its application, the amendment defines “a harmful website” as an Internet website that contains mostly “harmful content.”

Harmful content is further defined as the presentation of “indecent material,” that does not constitute any artistic, scientific, newsworthy, educational, or instructional value that would otherwise justify its display under the circumstances. According to the amendment, indecent material may include the following: the display of sexual acts that involve violence, torture, degradation, humiliation, or taking advantage of another person; the display of sexual acts with a minor or with a person who looks like a minor; and the display of a person or a part of the human body as available for a sexual use. Other types of harmful content that are subject to the notification and screening requirements are racist or nationalistic incitement, gambling, and games that involve violent acts.

The amended Law imposes on ISPs a requirement to notify subscribers of harmful websites and content by mail, at the time of signing a service agreement and every year thereafter, and by advertising the information on the ISP's Internet website, including it in the service agreement, and providing it to the subscriber by means of the ISP's customer service representatives. (Telecommunications Law (Telecommunications and Broadcasting) (Amendment No. 49) 5771-2011 & bill [both in Hebrew], the Knesset website, respectively (both last visited Apr. 5, 2011); Telecommunications Law, 5742-1982, as amended, 36 LAWS OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL 229 (1981/82).)