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Netanyahu against anti-porn bill, rejects online regulation

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fearing the very concept of regulating internet use, objects to proposed legislation that would limit and block visits to pornography sites on the internet.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem December 9, 2018. Oded Balilty/Pool via REUTERS - RC134DA41BD0
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On Dec. 9, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threw a bucket of cold water on the anti-pornography bill being advanced by Knesset member Miki Zohar from his own party and Knesset member Shuli Mualem of HaBayit HaYehudi. “I am bothered by laws that want to censor social networks and the internet,” said Netanyahu at a meeting of Likud ministers. “We do not want children to be exposed to offensive content, but my concern is that the internet — a space where there is [currently] no government regulation — will become regulated. Who determines what content is permitted and what content is prohibited? Who will determine the interpretations?” Netanyahu asked.

It is worth noting that the proposed legislation does have a worthy purpose. It is intended to protect minors from harmful content appearing on the internet. The problem is that the proposed bill has more far-reaching implications. It infringes on personal privacy, and there are considerable technological difficulties involved in implementing it. These were not taken into consideration when the bill was first proposed and only became evident during the ensuing discussions and debates. As a result of this, politicians who originally supported the bill, such as Knesset member Meirav Ben-Ari of the Kulanu Party, withdrew their support. Ben-Ari told Al-Monitor that after rereading the bill and understanding its full implications, she decided to withdraw her name as a co-sponsor because, “Ultimately, I do not want to infringe on the rights of the individual, and this [bill] does so disproportionately. As mature adults, we want to prevent legislators from involving themselves in content as much as possible.”

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