Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit in his first appearance at the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee since assuming the country’s top legal position in February.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Election transparency laws that require advertisements to identify the publicizing political party should be applied to the Internet and not just to print media, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said on Thursday in response to a petition on the issue.
Lawyer Shahar Ben-Meir and another lawyer have petitioned the Central Elections Commission to expand the existing law – which only mentions print media specifically – to include the Internet in light of the changing times and to achieve the law’s intent regarding transparency during election-season advertising.
The commission will hear the issue on Sunday.
Mandelblit did not completely endorse the petitioners position, however.
He said that the Internet is a complex medium, and that some of the broad categories for applying the law to the Internet suggested by the petitioners went too far.
Instead, he said that the commission should selectively and cautiously apply the law only in clear-cut cases.
In fact, Mandelblit said that it would have been more ideal for the Knesset or a minister to issue official new amendments or regulations to expand the existing law to include the Internet and not to leave the issue to the commission to deal with in an ad hoc manner.
Still, since there is no time for the Knesset or a minister to make this change before the April 9 election, Mandelblit supported the petition so long as the commission applied the transparency law to the Internet cautiously.
The law for transparency in elections dates back to 1959.
A commission led by former Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch in 2017 recommended updating the law for the Internet age. A proposed bill carrying out the updates has not been brought for any Knesset votes to date, leading to Ben-Meir’s petition.
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