The Israeli Ministry of Communications plans to highlight and expand the current measures to which Internet access providers are obligated, in order to enhance the public exposure to the free filtering services they offer their customers. The step comes after the Minister of Communications concluded that the main problem stems from the fact that parents are unaware of the services being offered (i.e. the technological measures designed to filter offensive sites and content - as defined in the Communications Law (Telecommunications and Broadcasts), 5742-1982).
Among the measures that the access providers will be required to take in order to inform subscribers of offensive or obscene websites and content, the dangers of using the internet, and the available safeguards (some of which are already enacted in the Communications Law) -
• Providers will be required to send text messages and emails regarding the free services;
• Providers will be required to ask new customers if they are interested in the services;
• Providers will be required to advertise the filtering service on their homepage, in an advertisement whose dimensions are to be determined;
• The possibility of requiring the providers to expend a certain amount of money each year, to increase public awareness on the topic, will be explored.
According to a Ministry statement, Minister Gilad Erdan persuaded the Ministerial Committee for Legislation to support the private bill proposed by Knesset Members Orly Levi-Abekasis (Israel Beytenu Party; her bill, in Hebrew, is available here) and Penina Tamanu-Shata (Yesh Atid Party; her bill, in Hebrew, is available here), requiring Internet service providers to configure the service to filter content by default. If this is accurate, then Minister Erdan is supporting a bill that would require providers to set-up filtering by default, so that in order to obtain unfiltered service, a subscriber would have to ask for it explicitly in writing (which would establish a list of subscribers ostensibly seeking access to pornographic material or nudity). Currently, the law provides that Internet providers shall offer the filtering service free-of-charge, and provide it to those customers who request it.
In addition, the two bills seek to amend the text of section 4 of the current Communications Law, to establish that any display of sex or nudity will be deemed offensive (except in cases it manifets artistic, scientific, newsworthy, educational, or informational merit, justifiable under the circumstances). Up until now, the statutory section has been limited only to displays of “sexual acts manifesting violence, abuse, degradation, humiliation or exploitation.”
Law.co.il wonders - if the Ministry supports filtering content by default, then why the need to expand the obligation to inform subscribers about these services?
Source: Press Release by the Ministry of Communications (in Hebrew).