Monday, 30 April 2012

Israeli Court rules websites should not be blocked

An Israeli Court has ruled that blocking illegal gambling websites should not be allowed. The Tel Aviv District Court ruled on 12 April that Israeli police do not have the right to order internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to offshore gambling websites.

Judge Michal Rubinstein ruled that current legislation should allow Israeli citizens to fully access ‘information of any type via the internet’, saying: “Even if the information on a site is wholly negative and serves no positive social role, it is still information and is covered by laws dealing with freedom of expression.”

Rubinstein added: “Clearly, gambling not approved by the state is a negative social phenomenon but that in itself is not a reason to restrict that information. By blocking the gambling sites, the freedom of Israelis to access information was damaged since they could not access the site to get the information stored there.”

The Israel Internet Association started the case against the Israeli Police, in August 2011, after law enforcement officials issued an order requiring Israeli ISPs to block access to a number of foreign-based gambling sites.

Rimon Levy, a Member of the Board of Directors at the Israel Internet Association (ISOC), said that the organisation was “very pleased” with the decision. “Our aim is to prevent restriction of access to information and undue damage to freedom of expression and speech", Levy said.

In case the police had pursued the owners of the gambling websites, the ISOC would have had no problem and would not have filed any petitions, but “[in this case] the police decided to take on the roles of investigator, prosecutor and judge", Levy explained. “The idea that the police would decide what is protected speech is simply chilling.”

Michiel Willems © 2012 CP Publishing Ltd. London, UK. Picture flag: