Israel Weighs Turning on Porn Filters by Default

Oct 31, 2016 8:24 AM PST

TEL AVIV — A panel of lawmakers in Israel has approved a bill requiring ISPs to block sexually explicit material by default.

The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s decision now green lights the bill, sending it to Israel's parliament, the Knesset, for a vote, according to a report in the Times of Israel.

Under terms of the proposal, users seeking to access online adult material would first have to notify their ISPs in writing, by telephone, or via a dedicated web form.

The piece of legislation, if passed by the Knesset, would empower the communications minister — currently Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — to choose which sites would be banned, the Times reported.

So far, a handful of countries restrict adult content access to users, including the U.K., China, Iran and Turkey, among others.

Currently, Israel’s ISPs are required by law to provide filtering systems, which users can request to use without charge.  

If approved by the Knesset, the “Blocking Offensive Websites” bill could trigger the creation of lists of users requesting access to pornographic and other sites deemed offensive, opponents said.

Lawmakers from nine of the Knesset’s 10 factions signed the bill, which has been through 10 years in the making. Only members of the Meretz left-wing party refused to back it, the Times said.

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