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Israel's Supreme Court Says Yes To Internet Anonymity 198

Posted by timothy
from the but-probably-in-hebrew dept.
jonklinger writes "The Israeli Supreme Court ruled this week that there is no civil procedure to reveal the identity of users behind an IP address, and that until such procedure shall be legislated, all internet postings, even tortious, may remain anonymous. The 69-page decision acknowledges the right to privacy and makes internet anonymity de facto a constitutional right in Israel. Justice Rivlin noted that revealing a person behind an IP address is 'an attempt to harness, prior to a legal proceeding, the justice system and a third party in order to conduct an inquiry which will lead to the revealing of a person committing a tort so that a civil suit could be filed against him.'"
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Israel's Supreme Court Says Yes To Internet Anonymity

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  • Ok. Let me get this straight. Israel, one of the most right wing western countries has explicitly approved internet privacy, while France, one of the most left wing western countries, is actively trying to put the internet genies back in the bottle [spiegel.de].

    Maybe my political analysis toolset needs to move out of the 20th century....

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by zappepcs (820751)

      Perhaps we can hope this idea spreads out of Israel in the same manner some other ideas did, but quicker.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by linzeal (197905)
        Like the idea of creating your own nuclear deterrent to prop up a theocracy that operates under the guise of a democratic country? I think it may already have spread.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          "Prop up" implies that the people of Israel don't support it. Indeed, they do - it's a democracy. The people support it by definition. If you want a theocracy, look around at the neighbors.

          And no, Israel is under no obligation to give citizenship to the Muslim Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. If you think they are, maybe you should push for the surrounding Muslim population to give citizenship to their Muslim Palestinian populations first. Funny how the UN doesn't pass resolutions for that to hap

        • Like the idea of creating your own nuclear deterrent to prop up a theocracy that operates under the guise of a democratic country?

          Indeed, see USA vs. USSR (no, you don't need an anthropomorphic god to worship, there are many godless-and-still-religious dogmas around for you to follow).

    • by timeOday (582209)

      Israel, one of the most right wing western countries has explicitly approved internet privacy, while France, one of the most left wing western countries, is actively trying to put the internet genies back in the bottle.

      Actually, I don't see anything in your link about the French making a blanket ruling against Internet anonymity. The French law gives the govt the power to deem websites illegal and block them, and to wiretap computers with the equivalent of a warrant, even by using a trojan. Those might

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by KIAaze (1034596)
      I believe the current french president, Sarkozy, is from the right wing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jim_v2000 (818799)
      They didn't explicitly "approve" anything. They basically said that the legislature needs to make a law about it first. How long before that happens?
      • by Sun (104778)

        They didn't explicitly "approve" anything. They basically said that the legislature needs to make a law about it first. How long before that happens?

        Not long, probably. Then again, we all know absolute, unrestrained, unchecked freedom is not a desirable thing either. What I can tell you is that the Israeli parliament has a relatively open and uncorrupted law-passing procedures (which is not the same as saying that stupid, anti-democratic laws never make it through). When such a law goes through the Knesset, we (civil liberties groups) will be there to voice our concerns. Shachar

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Politicians make poor Judges and vice versa. So long as the seperation of powers is preserved it works out quite well and you can have complete fruitcakes in charge without it hurting too much.
      Israel may just happen to have a bunch of Fascists that would make their grandparents roll in their graves in horror running it at the moment but it's the only place in that part of the world where the rule of law is repected at all. In other places it's simply "might makes right".
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      France? Left-wing? You must be in the “We in the US hate the French” reality distortion bubble.

      The government there is full of right-wingers and even nationalists!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Trepidity (597)

        It could be because we mostly hear about economic issues, not cultural/nationalist sort of issues. On economics, Sarkozy is considerably to the left of even the U.S. left, being pretty openly against "Anglo-Saxon capitalism".

        • As is nearly every other European country. USA is so conservative that even your communist party - if there is any - would probably be more right wing than European social democrats.

          • by Trepidity (597)

            That's true, but my impression is that Sarkozy is left-wing even by European standards on economics--- he's left of the UK Labour party, for example.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jonadab (583620)
        > France? Left-wing?

        Compared to a country like the US, yes.

        Terms like "right wing" and "left wing" are inherently relative. France of course has politicians that are fairly described as "right wing" by French standards, but they're still left-of-center (i.e., liberal) by US standards. If you prefer to look at things from the other perspective, the "moderates" in the US are pretty right-wing by French standards.

        France is not as far left of center as, say, Sweden.

        And the US (or Israel for that matter) is
    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @02:10AM (#31645722) Homepage Journal

      Actually, that left-wing vs right-wing thing was misleading even before it became obsolete, way back in the '80's. But, it still has a catchy sound to it, and prevents people looking at the real issues.

    • by amorsen (7485)

      Well in theory the right wing is all about individual freedom whereas the left wing is about what's good for everyone. This particular decision fits perfectly with that.

      What is strange is all the OTHER decisions where the right wing has restricted individual freedom to do something which is good for everyone (or at least to prevent something which is bad for everyone).

      • by dryeo (100693)

        Now that made me laugh.
        The right wing is about freedoms like the freedom to own people. The freedom to force your believes on others. The freedom to put large percentages of the population in prison for exercising their personal freedom. The freedom to take the commons and turn it to personal profit while socializing the cost.
        The left wing is usually about freedoms like not being owned by others. The freedom to not have others believes shoved down your throat. The freedom to do what you like in privacy with

        • by MobyDisk (75490)

          Gah! The original poster was pointing out that the terms left and right are meaningless. And they two of you respond by arguing what left and right mean? *whoosh*

    • The Israeli high court is truly a beacon of democracy and considered relatively left-wing inside Israel.

      It has quite a bit of opposition inside Israel.

      In my opinion as an Israeli, it is often hated in Israel for upholding Israel's actual law (including those about preserving human dignity) even when it contradicts the right-wingers goals or sometimes even the interests of the Israeli state.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ChiRaven (800537)
      The "left wing" has recently shown themselves (in cases like Jewel v. NSA, for example) to be even worse than their "right-wing" predecessors in attacking rights to individual privacy in electronic communications. There's no help there. Apparently there ARE no American mainstream politicians who actually believe that freedom of speech should be part of our fundamental rights in the 21st century.
      • by dryeo (100693)

        Don't forget that what Americans consider left wing is still right of centre.

    • by belmolis (702863)

      Actually, Israel is not right wing. Even under the "right wing" governments, Israel retains many socialist features, including a universal health care system. In spite of some censorship for military reasons, civil liberties in Israel are better protected than in most countries in the world. Indeed, even Arabs have greater political rights, including freedom of expression, than in any Arab country. (Israel was, not coincidentally, the first country in the Middle East to give Arab women the vote.)

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      Maybe my political analysis toolset needs to move out of the 20th century....

      Indeed. You have shown yet another example of why "right" and "left" [politicalcompass.org] are meaningless ways to compare philosophies.

  • Even for torts? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dancingmad (128588) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:25AM (#31645322)

    Is there a good argument to cover even tortuous actions under this? I'm for a free Internet, but defamation on the Internet is still defamation (for example).

    Of course, an anonymous source who defamed someone else could be judged by society; (if you're not willing to sign your name then why should we trust you?). That said, there's a strong argument for a defamation plaintiff that even if the defamer is anonymous he or she is still subject to the harm from an anonymous person's defamation.

    • by davester666 (731373) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:53AM (#31645458) Journal

      I can't believe you even bothered to make this simplistic argument, considering you are a kitten-rapist.

    • by selven (1556643)

      And there's a strong argument that people are quickly getting used to the fact that anyone can say anything on the internet, so few people will believe an anonymous poster.

      You can go either way, but I always prefer to err on the side of liberty.

    • It's prior to a legal action being commenced that's unusual. One files suit, and if it is not thrown out as frivolous, one then gets a court order requiring the owner of the IP address to be identified. That's not new: in fact, it's the normal process world-wide.

      Getting an order before a suit is filed is extraordinary and requires a commitment to the court to commence an action.

      In York University v. Bell Canada Enterprises and Rogers Communications. York University successfully applied for a "Norwich Or

  • by Guido del Confuso (80037) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:30AM (#31645340)

    The Israeli Supreme Court ruled this week that there is no civil procedure to reveal the identity of users behind an IP address, and that until such procedure shall be legislated, all internet postings, even torturous, may remain anonymous.

    The occasional posting may well be tortuous, but the vast majority of postings on the Internet are torturous. Check out MySpace and Facebook to see what I mean.

  • No. Tortuous.
  • by reporter (666905) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:40AM (#31645412) Homepage
    The Israelis, yet again, demonstrate that their nation is part of the West. Israel is a Western democracy that safeguards civil rights and, in general, human rights. Wafa Sultan [nytimes.com], a prominent American of Syrian ancestry, correctly and firmly praises the achievements of the Israelis.

    Israel, not Turkey, deserves to be a member of the European Union (EU).

    The Turks have long attacked human rights. In Turkey, suppressing free speech on and off the Internet is almost a national sport [jamestown.org]. You can be arrested and imprisoned for claiming that the Turks are responsible for the Armenian genocide [guardian.co.uk].

    After a Congressional committee approved a resolution ascribing responsibility for the genocide to the Turks, the Turks withdrew their ambassador from the USA.

    This sort of behavior is not what we Westerners want to see in the European Union. The Israelis act more like Europeans than the Turks and deserve EU membership far more than the Turks.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by linzeal (197905)

      Israel was started with a clean slate, the backing of the United States and one of the world's largest immigrant populations who were already used to a certain sense of liberty in society; however it is not doing nearly as well as other countries in the EU in respecting human and civil rights. This is not just about apartheid in Palestine, religious courts or the numerous violations of the Geneva convention Israel has committed over the years but goes to the heart and soul of the government of Israel and

      • by belmolis (702863)

        There is no apartheid in Israel. In Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, the Muslim Arabs are indeed trying to enforce apartheid, but that is hardly the fault of Israel.

    • by selven (1556643)

      You can be arrested and imprisoned for claiming that the Turks are responsible for the Armenian genocide.

      Well, to be fair, in a few EU countries you can be arrested for saying that the Holocaust didn't happen.

      • Where's your sense of justice? why are you applying patterns without thinking at all?

        Turkey is a perpetrator trying to cover up a crime. When they arrest someone it's because they are closer to a tyrannical state than a democracy.

        The holocaust has without a shade of a doubt happened, the Germans even took responsibility and admitted. Therefore, by denying its existence you should rightfully be arrested for antisemitism and racism.

        • by selven (1556643)

          See, I don't think antisemitism or racism should be arrestable offenses, or even illegal. Beating people up because you don't like their race should still be illegal, but that's just plain old assault. Freedom of thought and speech too important to simply ignore whenever it's convenient to do so.

          • Thoughts are not arrest-able... but actions are.

            Clearly, if everyone were being "thought racist" then you wouldn't know racism even exists! but since racist often act upon their thoughts, you have a serious problem.

      • Which makes a little bit more sense, even if it's just a last-ditch effort against human stupidity (i.e., those people disregarding all the evidence). By the same token, Turkey could have have a law against people saying that the Armenian genocide didn't happen. (OK, that's just a pipe dream. :))
  • Internet Anonymity may not be a constitutional right, since Israel has no constitution.
    • Re:No constitution (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mcornelius (1007881) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @01:00AM (#31645480)

      Capital letters make the entire difference here. It has no formal Constitution that's any more difficult to amend than any other law. It still has constitution, just not a constitution. In that regard, it's like the United Kingdom.

      They still have constitutional rights, in the sense that there is no lawful means for approving some action against a citizen, which historically, has been the norm when referring to constitutional rights, rather than referring to some creative interpretation of a fundamental unabrogable Bill of Rights that take a more difficult procedure to amend.

      Jefferson and Paine argued that George III was violating the English constitution, in that customs Englishmen typically enjoyed, they were being denied in the Colonies sans representation. “He has refused his Assent to laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good” was one of the complaints in the Declaration of Independence. Not once did George III refuse royal assent to an act of the British Parliament; it was only the colonial legislatures. The last time a bill passed by the British Parliament was refused Royal Assent was in 1708, so to the Colonial governments, that was something completely unheard of, and violated their constitutional conventions (lowercase C's).

      • by Fnkmaster (89084)

        Thank you. This is the kind of post that convinces me that it's still worth reading (and posting) on Slashdot. I love learning something new from somebody who's incredibly knowledgeable about an area that I am not, especially in a completely unexpected thread.

    • by alexo (9335)

      Internet Anonymity may not be a constitutional right, since Israel has no constitution.

      Technically correct, although the Israeli system [wikipedia.org] is close enough.

  • Civil procedure only matters in judicial proceedings. When the government acts extrajudicially, civil procedure has no scope.

    • by tepples (727027)
      Civil procedure matters when you use a judicial proceeding to take action against a government official for having acted extrajudicially in violation of law. I'm not familiar with the law of Israel, but examples from the United States include Doe v. AG lawsuits.
  • Isreali file sharing proxy service here I come! :)
    • by funkatron (912521)
      There are better countries to send your money to. Personally I dont care about the whole who's right/who start it thing (my country may have fucked up there) but I don't buy anything from either side of that warzone.
  • Anonymity is counter to governmental operations.

    They are just trying to win government support today by looking like they care about their people, and will pull out a 'its for the children' event later to take it away, with a bunch of flag waving and applause by the people..

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