JERUSALEM (JTA) – A bill that would have required internet service providers in Israel to block pornographic and other websites unless otherwise instructed by a customer passed its first reading in the Knesset in a watered-down form.
The controversial bill, which passed by a unanimous vote in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday before legislators started to backtrack after charges of censorship, now requires the internet service providers to inform customers by text message and email of the option to receive filtered internet. It passed its first reading in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday.
The bill must pass two more readings before it becomes a law.
The Communications Ministry said the requirements of the original bill were against the law. It was authored by Shuli Moalem-Refaeli of the Jewish Home party and co-sponsored by 26 Knesset members from all the parties in the ruling coalition and the opposition except the left-wing Meretz.
Several similar bills have been submitted in recent years.
Internet providers currently provide such filters for free when requested by a customer, which is required under law.