(photo credit: Reuters)
The Tel Aviv District Court has issued a precedent-setting ruling blocking Internet sites that facilitate prostitution services.
Due to the court spokesman’s office being closed for Passover, the more than week-old ruling was made public for the first time on Tuesday.
The ruling approved one of a series of requests made in March by the State Prosecution’s Cybercrime Department to block the sites – specifically the site sex777.net.
Court rulings on the other requests have not yet been publicized, but the Justice Ministry confirmed that it expects those requests to move forward soon.
This was the first time that such a request or ruling was made since a Knesset law was passed in September 2017 outlawing the use of the Internet for criminal purposes.
Lawyers who oppose blocking the site said that law enforcement should be investigating specific alleged crimes and specific suspects.
They said that the blocking of sites was only meant as a rare last resort if such investigations got stuck, for example, if a suspect was in a foreign country and there was no effective way to pursue them.
Further, the lawyers said blocking one site was ineffective when other sites existed and new sites could be easily established.
While agreeing that there was some validity to these defenses, the court said law enforcement had the discretion to use any tool to combat prostitution and online law-breaking.
Moreover, even if the court could not solve all of the world’s prostitution and online law-breaking problems, it said it was still obligated to use whatever powers the Knesset gave it to make any dent it could against those phenomena.
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