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Censoring Cyberspace: Introducing Israeli Blocked Sites Index


Israel Internet Association (ISOC-IL)

Over the years, the increasing use of the Internet has brought with it many benefits such as exercising freedom of expression, freedom of occupation, the public's right to know and more. Alongside this, the internet has also become a breeding ground for negative phenomena and even an arena in which various crimes are committed, including illegal gambling, offering prostitution services, and more. Against this background, in 2017, the Law of Powers for the Prevention of Offenses Using a Website was enacted, 2017-2017 (hereinafter: the "Powers Law"), which allows the authorities to oblige Internet providers in Israel to block websites used for serious criminal activity.
Along with the clear public importance in fighting serious crime that is aided by the Internet, there is a weighty interest in ensuring transparency and adequate judicial control over the exercise of governmental powers in the field. Indeed, the powers stipulated in the law are in fact a tool for censorship of Internet content, hence the fear that the tools will harm freedom of expression and the public's ability to access information, which are supreme values in Israeli society. Today, the Internet is the most important framework for exercising citizens' freedom of expression as well as access to information. Therefore, it must be ensured that the implementation of the law is carried out in a proper manner, appropriate to its purpose, while maximally protecting the freedom of the Internet, and also to ensure that the procedures for issuing the blocking orders are conducted in a manner consistent with the principles of the Israeli legal system.

A citizen who wishes to learn about how to implement the Law of Powers to prevent the commission of offenses through the 2017-2017 website ("the Law of Powers"), will have difficulty finding a unified, informative and up-to-date source of information. The data that exists today in this context is spread over several sources of information, with each expressing a fragment of the full picture. The current research project seeks to provide researchers and policy makers with a detailed picture of the entire activity of restricting access to websites carried out in Israel under the powers law of 2017, including: the number of websites blocked, the amount and nature of the proceedings that took place under the powers law, the nature of the judicial hearing and the manner in which the court reached a decision .

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