Netanyahu mulls 2-party consent for phone call recordings
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Netanyahu mulls 2-party consent for phone call recordings

Prime minister considers legislation to ban taping conversations without full knowledge of all participants

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu poses for a selfie with student on March 30, 2014 (Danny Meron/POOL/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu poses for a selfie with student on March 30, 2014 (Danny Meron/POOL/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering sponsoring a bill that would require two-party consent to all recordings of phone calls and conversations.

Netanyahu raised the proposal during a meeting of the ministerial committee for the Ethiopian community, Channel 10 reported.

Current law requires that at least one party to a conversation must be aware of, and give permission for, recording. Any recording without knowledge of any of the parties is considered illegal wiretapping under Israeli law and is punishable by a maximum of five years in jail.

Netanyahu is considering requiring the consent of both parties to any recording that would be broadcast or used as evidence in court. Exceptions would be made for police wiretaps.

Reporters voiced concern Wednesday and Thursday that such legislation could harm journalistic freedom and integrity. It may also make convictions more difficult for police to obtain, rendering large amounts of evidence inadmissible in court.

“Netanyahu has not yet proposed any law. He said that as a principle of protection of the individual it does not make sense that a person can record someone and broadcast it without their knowledge,” a spokesperson for Netanyahu told Haaretz on Wednesday.

“This is the law in many States in the US. The problem is primarily recording someone without their knowledge. Of course the police will be exempt from this law,” the spokesperson said.

Zehava Galon, head of the opposition Meretz party, harshly criticized Netanyahu’s proposal.

“Netanyahu continues in his path of violating the freedom of the press, the public’s right to know and criticism of public officials. This proposal would prevent journalists from documenting problematic statements by public officials and allow [officials] to avoid responsibility for their statements,” Galon told Channel 10.

Eleven US states, including California, Florida and Massachusetts, require two-party consent for any recordings, as do several other countries including Germany.

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