Cabinet approves bill banning 'cyberbullying'

Cabinet approves nationwide program to combat "cyberbullying" online crimes against children.

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January 17, 2016 15:12
2 minute read.
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Police cyber crime unit. (photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

 
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The cabinet on Sunday unanimously approved a Public Security Ministry initiative for a nationwide program to combat “cyber bullying” and crimes committed against minors online.

The program will include formation of a special unit within the Israel Police to deal with cybercrimes, as well as a national hotline that will operate 24/7 to handle complaints.

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The unit would be separate from the Israel Police branch that deals with cyber security issues.

Another preventative unit would be formed to work on public awareness about cyber bullying and how to protect young people from sexual harassment, bullying and other forms of abuse online.

According to figures from a 2015 poll by the Central Bureau of Statistics, a quarter of all minors in Israel have been victims of cyber bullying, and ten percent reported being sexual harassed online.

In its statement on Sunday, the Public Security Ministry cited figures stating that 25% of youths reported receiving a naked picture online of someone they know in the past year.

Cyber bullying is believed to be a major cause of depression and attempted suicides in teens. The ministry said that, according to police figures, 822 children were taken to the emergency room in Israel in 2014 after attempting suicide. Of these, 79% were girls, and 500 were between the ages of 15 and 17.

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According to police figures, 9,332 criminal cases were opened in 2015 involving cybercrimes, including 553 sex crimes, 1,486 for making threats and 210 for slander.

Ahead of Sunday’s vote, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan had said the program would help answer the problem of cyber bullying and other online forms of abuse by creating a single address to which people could turn with complaints or questions.

Finally, we are combating Internet crime against children, the National Council for the Rights of the Child wrote in a statement on Sunday.

“The Web and its derivatives are, to date, the modern ‘minefield’ found at the doorstep of many children without even a warning fence – ‘beware of mines,’” wrote Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, head of the Council.

The Council further stated that it had notified the police chief and public security minister of the urgent need for a national taskforce to combat Internet crimes a year and a half ago, and that it hoped the government decision would be implemented as quickly as possible and not “remain on paper.”

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