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ICT- Information and Communication Technology

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Israel: Information Policy and Law

This section discusses ICT legal issues including intellectual property (IP), Piracy, Privacy and censorship laws.


Israel has one of the lowest piracy rate in the middle east. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the only
Middle Eastern country with a relatively low piracy rate, 33 percent. This is attributable to deliberate attempts to adopt stronger intellectual property protections in the 1990s, when a new generation of policymakers came into power and began luring foreign investments [30].

Piracy rate by region
Source: 2004 Piracy Study: Business Software Alliance [30]

Piracy Rankings
Source: 2004 Piracy Study: Business Software Alliance [30]

2003 Global Software Piracy
Source: 2004 Piracy Study: Business Software Alliance [30]

Copyright laws
The copyright law in effect in Israel today is the 1911 law signed by King George V and absorbed into Israel's legal code with the termination of the British Mandate in 1948. Amendments and revisions were made for the digital age, but is far from perfect. Also, enforcement is a problem.

Law First Passed Last Amended
Copyright Law and Copyright Ordinance 1911 1999
Ha'midgamin Ordinance 1925  
Trademark Regulations 1940  
Copyright Order 1953  
Source Name Law 1965  
Patent Law 1967 1998
Trademark Ordinance 1972  
Performers' Law 1984 1996
Integrated Circuits Protection Law 1999  

Intellectual property protection in Israel suffers from two main flaws; the existence of State copyright and poor implementation of property rights. The first leads to limitation of access to government information and the second to a growing criminal sector involved in pirating activities. Several reasons are given for providing copyright protection to government information: limiting liability; protecting the commercial investment of creating a web site; and protection of third-party works.

Domain Names
The rules for domain names in Israel (extension is .il) is posted at:
Israel has established for academic institutions, for kindergartens and elementary and high schools, for municipal and local government authorities, and .net for Internet Service Providers holding a valid Internet operating license from the Ministry of Communications. Local presence is not required for registering domain name [32].

Cyber squatting
Cyber squatting is the practice of registering a domain name of a company or product with the intention of later selling it to a company at a exorbitant rate. The term can also refer to the misrepresentation of a registered trademark in a domain name. "Cyber squatting is less prevalent in Israel than anywhere else," says Doron Shikmoni, president of the ISOC-IL. Israel is a smaller market and there are fewer cases [33].

In the Snapple case, the Snapple Beverage company challenged the legitimacy of Sara Vidal to hold the domain name, Vidal claimed to have registered the name in August, 1999 as a web site for a consulting company, Snapple Consulting. Vidal argued that there was no misrepresentation involved, because a message on the web site explicitly explained that the site was not related to the Snapple Beverage company, and in fact linked back to that site. But this case had ruling in favor of Snapple Beverage Company

Digital Signature Laws
Israel’s Electronic Signature Law entered effect with implementation of Magna system in 1999. The law required a certified electronic signature on documents. The law stipulated strict conditions in the area of data security so that the signature would be acceptable. The Securities Law allows Magna to operate only for corporations and public companies. The legislation governing mutual funds and investment consulting are also amended to allow mutual funds, investment consulting firms and portfolios to report via Magna [34].

Aladdin eToken is about the size of an average house key and is highly portable, providing users with powerful authentication by requiring something they have, the tamper-proof eToken, and something they know, a PIN. It is used for secure network logon, secure VPN, Web Sign-On, Simple Sign-On, secure email, and numerous other applications. eToken is available in smartcard and USB form factors featuring proximity capabilities and one-time password technology. Aladdin's eToken technology allows for concurrent storage of multiple private keys, passwords or digital certificates for use in a wide variety of applications and enables corporations to trust the identity of individuals requesting access to protected content or applications provided over their networks or Web sites.

The Protection of Privacy Law regulates the processing of personal information in computer data banks in an effort to protect privacy. The law sets out 11 categories of prohibited activities and provides for civil and criminal penalties for violations of an individual's privacy. Under the Privacy Law, privacy in databases is also protected. Specifically, all holders of data banks containing more than 10,000 names or various confidential information must register with the Registrar of Databases and report their purpose, use, means of data collection, and data security measures implemented. The law limits the use of information in these databases to the purposes for which they were intended, and database holders must provide access to database subjects. There are broad exemptions for police and security services as well as a wide range of defenses to the Privacy Law. For example, actions in good faith or in furtherance of the public interest serve as defenses to violations of the law. The law also sets up basic privacy regulations relating to surveillance, publication of confidential information, criminal records, and the legal obligations of the government with respect to confidential information. The Privacy Law was last amended in 1996 to broaden the databases covered and increase penalties for violations.

The Registrar of Databases within the Ministry of Justice enforces the Privacy Law with regard to databases. The Registrar maintains the register of databases and can deny registration if he or she believes that a database is used for illegal activities. The Registrar also investigates violations of the Privacy Law. A Public Council for the Protection of Privacy has also been set up to advise the Justice Minister on legislative matters related to the Protection of Privacy Law and its subsidiary regulations and orders. The council sets guidelines for the protection of computerized databases and guides the work of the Registrar of Databases. Even European Commission considers Israel's data protection laws likely to offer an adequate level of protection for personal data transferred to Israel from countries in the European Union.

Unauthorized access to computers is punished by The Computer Law of 1995. Many routine activities prohibited by this law, such as accessing a computer or erasing information, are illegal only when performed without proper authorization. In June 2002, an Israeli teen-ager was sentenced under this law to eighteen months in jail for masterminding a series of hacks into the computer systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the United States Air Force and the United States Department of Defense. An appeals court overruled the teen-ager's original sentence of six months community service after the Israeli government, under pressure from the United States, pushed for a stricter sentence.

The Credit Data Service Law was enacted in 2002 to create a shared center for storing consumers' credit information among different competing creditors and break up the dominance of banks that controlled credit information. The law gives consumers access to their information, the opportunity to correct information collected and features a procedure for opting out of collection [35].

I could not find any existence of Internet Censorship in Israel. There are censorship laws targeted at questionable journalism. For example, BBC had to apologize to Israel for failing to submit for censorship an interview with the nuclear whistle blower, Mordechai Vanunu. [54]



© Copyright 2006 Anoop Samuel.  All Rights Reserved.