In which The Knesset Finally Solves Porn and the Media Continues to be Bleh

 

In a blog’s early life it is important to get hits. Clickbait is a necessary evil. Also, trying to write about the state budget, which is in the process of being passed would take a staff of unpaid interns. Therefore…Porn!

Disappointed high school Hebrew teacher, Shuli-Moalem Refaeli (HaBayit HaYehudi), sponsored a bill (full text, or is it? See below) that would make internet providers censor “harmful sites and harmful programs on the internet”. “Harmful” would be defined by the Minister of Communications (currently Bibi, the ministerial Swiss army knife) and would hopefully include Buzzfeed lists. Customers would maintain the option of letting their provider know by phone or by website that they really enjoy “harmful sites” and that the provider should drop the censor. They can also, and I truly love this, write them a letter, hopefully in beautiful cursive script, asking them to remove the censor. In a heartwarming display of solidarity, the bill was co-sponsored by members of every party except for Meretz (they apparently have a strong “harmful site” lobby in the party). This isn’t a case of the religious parties coming for your vices.

In the explanation for the bill, the authors refer explicitly to pornography and pedophilia sites as the intended targets of the bill. According to studies, 60% of children in Israel between the ages of 9 and 15 have visited these types of sites. Many  other  studies have also taken the position that access to pornography has real consequences.

The authors have noble intentions. However, there is a real question as to whether governments should be censoring the internet. While offering censorship possibilities is noble, forcing people to opt out of censorship is a strange legislative choice, especially because most Israelis are busy opting out of cell phone and internet services they didn’t ask for. The authors note that previous attempts at educating the populace about the possibility of censor by request have failed. They do not, however, explore the possibilities of alternate methods of education. Furthermore, they seem unconcerned with the possibilities that non-“harmful” sites may be caught up in a general censorship algorithm and that the definition of pornography  varies from person to person.

Finally, if we are giving those 14 year olds a proper technical education, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of censorship will stay these teens from their intended destination. Vice is a hard thing to eliminate by legislation.

The amendment passed the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Matters unanimously and also passed its preliminary Knesset reading.It will now go before a committee, then back to the Knesset.

This brings us to the second part of the headline. According to Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, the version of the law that was approved only makes internet providers send out texts and emails telling customers of the possibility of using the censor and does not make censorship the default. Shaked has been challenged about her support of the bill due to her outspokenness regarding over-legislation in Israeli society. However, Moalem-Refaeli (watch the video in the above link) seems to be unaware of Shaked’s version. I scoured the internet for the bill that the Ministerial Committee approved, but could only find the January 2016 version. Laws effecting our lives should be easy to find. It is the media’s job to get these texts and post them. Until it is, we will not know if Shaked is lying out her teeth or not.

As I searched high and low for the text I found more evidence that the media is unable to separate between news and op-eds. Walla ran a headline “The Hypocrisy of Shaked“. The article was not under their op-ed section. Shame on them.

(Update: The title of the article has been changed to “Shaked opposes extra legislation, but supports the Porno Bill”. With no evidence whatsoever, I’ll take credit)

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