A bill proposing criminal and civil liability for talkbackers and managers of prominent websites for comments posted on the internet (in forums, talkbacks, blogs, etc) passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset Wednesday by a majority of 29 Knesset members to two.
“We proposed this legislation in wake of consistently hurtful comments made on talkbacks and other forums. We tired to compromise with content managers and establish an ethical code, but were ignored by site managers and were therefore forced to propose this bill,” said MK Israel Hasson (Yisrael Beiteinu) who proposed this legislation.
Hasson’s bill applies to large, prominent websites receiving more than 50,000 hits daily.
Hasson referred in his comments to earlier attempts made to regulate speech on internet sites, where upon talkbackers and respondents would have to disclose their identity to site operators.
MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor), who along with MK Gideon Sa'ar, chairman of the Likud faction, voted against this proposed bill, noted that “the internet operates differently than other, more traditional media outlets.”
“It may not be fun when people say nasty things about you on talkbacks, and god knows that happened to me, but I still won’t bring the legislative ax down on such forums,” she said.
Yacimovich also stated that “this bill impinges upon freedom of expression and should be taken off the table. This legislation will do nothing to help the situation, the internet’s advantages still far outweigh its flaws.”
Ehud Kenan contributed to this article