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Ahead of the first reading of a bill proposed by Shas MK Amnon Cohen that would require Internet providers to stop minors from accessing adult Web sites, the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee met with representatives of various ministries and technology companies on Monday.
"This is not a haredi law or a religious law," Cohen said, "but rather it is a law for all of the country's children - to watch over them and to protect them."
The meeting was chaired by committee chairman MK Moshe Kahlon (Likud) and included representatives of the Communications, Justice and Education ministries as well as lawyers from Netvision, Bezeq and Microsoft.
Under the bill, which easily passed in its preliminary reading in March, Internet providers would be required to block minors' access to Web site containing sex, violence or gambling.
Access to these sites would only be permitted after the user's age is verified via physical or biometric identification, and a password is checked.
"We could set up one obstacle after another," said Azmi Tunis, a lawyer in the Justice Ministry's Technology and Information Department. "However, if a child wants to access certain information on the Internet, he will be able to do it. If we close the door, he will just climb in through the window."
He said trying to enforce such a law would be a waste of money
and an exercise in futility.
Bezeq and Netvision representatives also opposed the bill, as it includes a clause advocated by MK Ya'acov Cohen of United Torah Judaism providing for a fine of up to NIS 20,000 for each instance where an Internet provider fails to comply with the law, as well as possible jail time.
Communications Minister Ariel Attias of Shas said there were real steps that could be taken to protect children, pointing to Microsoft programs that can prevent children from entering certain Web sites.
He said that the bill under discussion, if passed, would benefit the entire country, not just the religious.
The committee will reconvene in two weeks, at which point they hope to prepare the bill for a first reading in the Knesset plenum.