Israeli legal provisions, and in particular the Israeli Criminal Code of 1977, all apply to the internet as is. That means that criminal proceedings may be taken regarding all the offences that appear on the Israeli Criminal Code if occurred online, and when appropriate. It will be noted that alongside the Criminal Code of 1977, additional laws include criminal offences that may be used in criminal proceedings, if necessary. Such is the case regarding the Israeli Computers Act (1995), the Israeli Protection of Privacy Act (1982) or the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act (1998).
Cyberharassment, violations of privacy, cybercrime, actual violence
On the matter of cyberbullying it will be noted that the Israeli legal system does not include for now a specific prohibition regarding this conduct. The conduct of "cyberbullying" may be covered by different legal provisions, based on the facts of the specific case. These provisions may include the following:
- Article 30 to the Israeli Communications Act of 1982 forbids the use of a "Bezeq facility" to perform an act of harassment. A "Bezeq facility" is any facility or device that is used in order to transmit, receive or transfer signs, signals, visual forms, writings, voices or information using wire, wireless, an optic system or other electromagnetic systems.
The term "Harassment" in this context was interpreted by the Israeli Supreme Court as a term that holds two different meanings, each is relevant on its own to establish the offence. The first meaning is the "technical" use of the "Bezeq facility" in order to harass. For example, calling a person numerous times on his telephone in inconvenient times. The second meaning is the "substantive" meaning, which includes using the "Bezeq facility" to convey harassing content to the victim.
As you can see, this offence, however not dedicated to tackle Cyberbullying specifically, may in fact be used to indict criminals that use "Bezeq facilities" (including, of course, e-mails, social networks, online chat rooms and so on) to harass their victims.
- Article 3(a)(5a) to the Israeli Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act (1998) states that a sexual harassment may also be "a publication of a picture, a video or a recording of a person, focused on that person's sexuality, when the publication may humiliate or degrade that person, and when that person did not give his consent to the publication". The punishment on this conduct is five years imprisonment and the perpetrator is regarded as a sex offender after convicted. This Article was enacted mainly in order to tackle the phenomenon known as "revenge porn". Usually, the phenomenon includes the documentation of a sexual act that was performed with consent, and then one of the people involved in the act publishes that content without the consent of the second person. This "revenge porn" is regarded as a sort of cyberviolence towards the victim, and thus may be regarded as a type of "cyberbullying".
- Article 2 to the Israeli Protection of Privacy Act (1982) states a list of twelve conducts that may consist as an intrusion of privacy. Among other conducts, the Article states that an intrusion of privacy may be the documentation of a person when he is in his private domain; the publication of a picture of a person when the publication may humiliate or degrade that person; copying the content of a person's correspondence; or the publication of a matter regarding a person's private life, including his sexual conduct or his health condition. The intrusion of privacy in these manners is punishable by five years' imprisonment. The intrusion of privacy is not a "classic" form of "cyberbullying" but nonetheless we believe that these offences help "cover" different forms of cyberbullying conducted online.
- Article 192 to the Israeli Criminal Code (1977) states as an offence the act of threatening another person. The Article states as an offence "threatening a person in any way in causing illegal harm to his or a different person's body, freedom, assets, reputation or livelihood, intending to frighten the person or tease him – is punishable by three years' imprisonment". This provision is well applicable to the online environment and is often used in cases regarding intimidation or threats conducted online. In cases of "cyberbullying" this provision is often used when the perpetrator used any sort of threat in causing harm to the victim.
- Article 144D2(a) to the Israeli Criminal Code (1977) forbids the act of incitement for violence. The Article states that "publishing a call for an act of violence, or praising or encouraging an act of violence, supporting it or expressing solidarity with it, and when based on the content of the publication and its circumstances there is a real possibility that the publication will lead to an act of violence – is punishable by five years' imprisonment". Article may be used to indict perpetrators that call on the infliction of violence against another person, especially in cases where the call may lead to an actual infliction of violence against the victim. "Cyberbullying" often occurs when the bullying is inflicted by the hands of a lot of different people online, simultaneously. This Article enables the prosecution to indict people who organize and encourage to infliction of violence against the victim, even in cases where the violence did not occur physically.
- Article 4 to the Israeli Prevention of Threatening Harassment (2001) gives the Israeli court the authority to issue a warrant that forbids the harassment of the victim. This is a civil warrant and a civil proceeding, but it is noted here as a different course of action that the victim may choose. This warrant may include the following provisions: the prohibition of spying on the victim; the prohibition of contacting the victim in any way; the prohibition of being near the victim's home or workplace and the prohibition of carrying a weapon. This course of action is a useful method of tackling harassers and is a supplementary channel to the criminal proceedings.
In addition to all these provisions, it should be noted that on August 2015 the Israeli Minister of Justice has appointed former Supreme Justice Edna Arbel to lead a committee named "a committee to form means of protecting the public and civil servants from harmful publication and bulling on the internet". The committee's members are from the public service, the academy, and the private sector, and the committee is focused on finding legal and non-legal solutions to the problem of cyberviolence and cyberbullying.
Online child sexual exploitation and abuse of children
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- Budapest Convention
Other instruments recommended for ratification
- Istanbul Convention
- Lanzarote Convention
- Protocol on Xenophobia and Racism