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By Dan Or-Hof, CIPP

New bills would boost online privacy

Two new bills were recently introduced by the Israeli government: the Electronic Commerce Law and the Communications Law (Amendment No. 33). The two bills encompass privacy-enhancing provisions and target two issues long needed to be enacted—prohibition on spam and online anonymity.

Setting out to regulate certain legal aspects of commercial transactions in electronic media, the Electronic Commerce Law will impose a duty on online service providers to secure and keep confidential every detail and document that can personally identify the data subject. The law further instructs courts to order a person identity to be disclosed only upon showing a substantial likelihood that the person committed a tort or infringed on intellectual property rights.

The proposed amendment to the Communications Law adopts the EU 'opt-in' approach toward unsolicited commercial electronic messages. If approved, no such communications will be allowed through e-mail, fax, automatic dialing systems and SMS messages without prior explicit consent. Failure to comply will result in statutory damages of up NIS1,000 (approximately $285) per one unsolicited message and fines of up to NIS 202,000 (approximately $60,000).

Both bills were approved last February by the Israeli Parliament (the 'Knesset') in the first reading out of three, and are now under deliberations by the Knesset's committees. It is expected that the bills will be enacted by the end of this year.

Dan Or-Hof is a senior counsel at Pearl Cohen Zedek and Latzer LLP, with specific expertise in data protetion and privacy law. He may be reached at dano@pczlaw.com.

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