While the Israeli legislators are passing laws for big-brother-like censorship of the Internet, the “developed” world is taking more complex, yet more thoughtful steps towards the same goal – online safety for children. For example, the EU is going to spend 55m Euros on educational efforts in the next four years to promote online safety. In the US there is a similar initiative fighting its way through the Senate, even though with some difficulties. Even Google is partaking in the educational effort, even though they are perfectly fine with promoting safety through better algorithms. It seems like everybody, but the Israeli lawmakers (together with their colleagues in other Middle Eastern countries and in Asia) realize that in order to keep the balance between openness and safety we need education. We can definitely create a very limited version of the internet, hoping it will be safe, but it is that openness of this platform that drives the internet as we know it today. Education may be a more expansive and a more demanding solution, but it appears as the most substantial one
It seems like there is a great distance between the rhetoric employed by proponents of the law and their action. If you read the linked articles you will see that even the definition of threat to the children is different. While the Israeli MK see their role as protectors in preventing the children from viewing naked bodies online, everybody else are actually concerned with more tangible issues such as utilization of online resources for child abuse. Maybe I am missing some highly philosophical part of an argument that suggests that child abuse originates in corrupted minds of those who consume porn (or any other sex related content for that matter), however I doubt that. There is actually a real threat for children actively participating online and it has to be addressed.
When put side by side, both types of efforts apply the same rhetoric for defining the goal. However when one is aimed at addressing a real problem rooted in contemporary issues, the other is taking advantage of people’s prejudges and fears in an attempt to promote one way of life at expanse of another. This later part is really warring and it results in different types of action with different types of broad repercussions. While following the censorship route brings with it limitations on creativity, openness, etc. thus hurting the long-term technology driven innovation, I cannot foresee similar difficulties with the education route. On the contrary, i believe that following the education route would bring additional benefits in terms of capacity building for the society and its economies. I hope that MKs will do some research before they register their votes in the second and the third rounds of hearings for the internet censorship law.