Article Israel: Supreme Court Decision on Protection of IP Addresses

(Feb. 1, 2017) On January 26, 2017, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition that sought an order requiring the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) to provide an enforcement mechanism for protecting human rights on the Internet. The purpose of this mechanism would include enabling disclosure of an anonymous Internet surfer’s identity. The Court also rejected the petitioner’s request to reverse its 2010 Rami Mor precedent decision on this issue.  (HCJ 589/17 Anonymous v. the Knesset (Jan. 26, 2017), STATE OF ISRAEL THE JUDICIAL AUTHORITY; Request for CA 4447/07 Mor v. Barak ITC (Mar. 25, 2010), STATE OF ISRAEL THE JUDICIAL AUTHORITY (Mor Decision) (both in Hebrew).)

Background

According to the petitioner, for more than three years, an intimate film that featured her and was made ten years earlier by her former partner had been published and distributed online. The film had been transferred without her consent to a third party of unknown identity.  The petitioner argued that her efforts to remove the film from a number of websites had been blocked based on the Mor decision. According to that decision, in the absence of legislation on the subject, Internet providers could not be forced to provide the IP address of persons posting content on the Internet.  (HCJ 589/17, ¶ 2.)

The Supreme Court Decision

While expressing sympathy with the petitioner, Justice Isaac Amit, with other justices concurring, rejected the petition. Amit held that, based on the system of separation of powers, the Court cannot order the Knesset to pass legislation, nor could it reverse the Mor decision.  Having initiated proceedings to remove the film at the lower court, the petitioner cannot skip the judicial process and “climb” directly as a third party to appeal the Mor decision, “as this Court sitting as a High Court of Justice does not serve as an appeal court over other decisions of the Court sitting as a Court of Appeals.”  (Id. ¶ 3.)  The Supreme Court of Israel sits as either a High Court of Justice or as a High Court of Appeals.  (Basic Law: the Judiciary (5748-1984), § 15, Knesset website.)

Amit added that on its face the actions described in the petition might constitute a criminal offense under the Protection of Privacy Law, 5741-1981, as well as under section 3(a)(5a) of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law, 5758-1998. As explained in the Mor decision, a victim of an offensive act carried out via the Internet that might constitute an offense may complain to law enforcement authorities, who are expected to pursue a criminal investigation.  (HCJ 589/17, ¶ 4; Protection of Privacy Law, 5741-1981, SEFER HAHUKIM [BOOK OF LAWS, the official gazette, SH] 5741 No. 1011 p. 128, as amended; Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law, 5758-1998, SH 5758 No. 1661 p. 166, as amended (both in Hebrew).)

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Levush, Ruth. Israel: Supreme Court Decision on Protection of IP Addresses. 2017. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2017-02-01/israel-supreme-court-decision-on-protection-of-ip-addresses/.

APA citation style:

Levush, R. (2017) Israel: Supreme Court Decision on Protection of IP Addresses. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2017-02-01/israel-supreme-court-decision-on-protection-of-ip-addresses/.

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Levush, Ruth. Israel: Supreme Court Decision on Protection of IP Addresses. 2017. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2017-02-01/israel-supreme-court-decision-on-protection-of-ip-addresses/>.