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Israeli Official Moves To Restrict Internet Porn; Users, Activists Balk – ‘Porn Is Our God-Given Right!’

TEL AVIV – Member of Knesset Miki Zohar presented a bill on Thursday to prevent automatic access to pornographic sites on the Internet

The bill stipulates that Internet users will have to ask their providers to remove a porn filter before they can access sites with pornographic content. The bill is intended to prevent children under the age of 18 from accessing age-inappropriate content and will include gambling sites. 

“In the non-virtual world we have laws protecting minors to prevent them from venturing into sex shops and gambling centers, but online, children can be exposed to content that is unsuitable for their ages,” said Zohar, who is a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

“The Internet is a public space and along with the right and freedom of expression for every citizen lies the right and freedom of children to be in the public domain without encountering inappropriate content for their age,” he added.

In order to lift the block, users will have to go to the website of their Internet provider and give an identification number so their age can be checked.

According to the bill, 60% of Israeli children between the ages of 9 and 15 have visited pornographic websites at one time or another. 47% of them have computers with Internet access in their bedrooms. 

Psychologist Tammy Samet is in favor of the bill, and notes that watching pornography at an early age creates distorted concepts of sex that are very difficult to let go of later in life.

“A child who views porn without a responsible adult there to tell what’s real and what’s fake, and who is exposed to sites in which things are exaggerated to the extreme, runs the risk of creating fantasies that have no connection to real life. The result is very damaging sexual and relationship problems later on,” says Samet.

Yaniv Peleg, a 39-year-old father of two from Tel Aviv, reacted harshly to the proposed bill in an interview with Breibart Jerusalem.

“I think it’s f*cking ridiculous. What is this, North Korea?” said Peleg. “Porn is our God-given right. Our parents aren’t going to tell us how it’s done, and neither would I want them to.”

Responding to claims that pornography can cause detrimental effects to children, Peleg said, “Sure, as a white Jewish boy sometimes you get a bit of a complex – if you know what I mean – but you still learn tons. It’s a rite of passage. I say leave our porn alone.”

Some of the bill’s detractors say that it is impossible to define what constitutes pornography since the definition changes from one community to the next.

Columnist Ehud Kenan asks if medical websites portraying intimate body parts — including images of women breastfeeding — will also be blocked under the new bill.

Furthermore, Kenan adds, most people today don’t exclusively use a home computer to access the internet. Children and adults alike use cellphones, which would not be included in the proposed bill.  

Meital Greiber-Schwartz, a lawyer and the Director of Community and Regulatory Affairs at the Israel Internet Association, opposes the bill for myriad reasons, including the possibility that Internet providers may abuse people’s personal ID numbers for their own interests.

But Greiber-Schwartz also asserts that the reasoning behind the ban is faulty and an infringement on free speech.

“The problem isn’t the Internet block itself, it’s the coercion of forcing people to have it,” said Greiber-Schwartz in an interview with Breibart Jerusalem.

“This bill doesn’t solve anything. In fact, it creates a bigger problem. It will give parents the illusion that their children are protected on the Internet, making them think they no longer need to have that conversation with their kids when in reality it isn’t so.

“The proposed bill will harm free speech and may also lead to a situation whereby legitimate sites are also blocked.”

She added that education is still the only effective way to combat the problem of children’s exposure to pornography. Furthermore, pornographic content is accessible to children on platforms that cannot be supervised, such as WhatsApp.

Earlier in the week, MK Zohar put forward a bill to implement stricter restrictions on commercial activity on Shabbat.

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