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Shocked, Shocked: Israeli Web Freedom Group Cries Foul As Police Block Gaming Sites

The Israel Internet Association warns in a court filing, reported on News 1 (Hebrew only) ,that freedom of expression in Israel will be “mortally wounded” if the police are allowed to go ahead with an order blocking access to eight Internet gambling sites.

The Internet Association’s lawyer, Web freedom specialist Haim Rabia, presented his arguments in a meeting at the Bet Mishpat Le-Inyanim Minhaliyim (“court for administrative affairs” – a new one on me) on Wednesday March 16 to discuss the association’s appeal. “At a time when social networks are driving revolutions around the world, the idea that the police should be entitled to determine what constitutes permissible expression is simply terrifying,” Rabia is quoted as saying.

He argued that if any of the eight sites had been charged with criminal activity, there would have been no appeal against a police order blocking access. Instead, however, the police decided to be the investigator, prosecutor and sentencing judge all by itself.

If the order is allowed to stand, he said, it will serve as a legal precedent for future police actions to close other Internet sites promoting forms of expression that the police find objectionable, with no due process.

The state attorney’s office replied that the police are authorized under Section 229 of the criminal code to shut down locations where illegal gambling is going on. The state defines a gambling website as a location and does not consider Internet gambling to be a form of expression.

The judge set a new court date for final arguments. None of the news accounts say what that date is.

Here is Rabia’s own version on his website, it-law.co.il. He appears to specialize in Internet law.

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