INTERNET LAW - Israeli Websites Liable for Publishing Personal Data on Dating Ad

IBLS Contributor: Odia Kagan, Tel Aviv, Israel, odia@okaganlaw.com
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In Civil Claim 68845/06 Zevuluni v. Walla Communications Et. Al, the Magistrates Court of Tel Aviv found Internet portal and search engine “Walla!” and dating website “Cupid” liable for libel for having used Plaintiff’s name in an online advertisement for the dating website. The advertisement for the website “Cupid”, which was displayed on the Walla website, showed an anonymous figure looking for love using the yellow pages, and displayed the name, address and telephone number of Mr. Zevuluni, an attorney, with the caption “There are simpler ways for finding love.”

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In Civil Claim 68845/06 Zevuluni v. Walla Communications Et. Al, the Magistrates Court of Tel Aviv found Internet portal and search engine "Walla!" and dating website "Cupid" liable for libel for having used Plaintiff's name in an online advertisement for the dating website. The advertisement for the website "Cupid", which was displayed on the Walla website, showed an anonymous figure looking for love using the yellow pages, and displayed the name, address and telephone number of Mr. Zevuluni, an attorney, with the caption "There are simpler ways for finding love."

Mr. Zevuluni, a religious, married man, argued that it is possible to conclude from the advertisement that he is the one looking for love and that such implication damages his reputation and constitutes libel. The Court agreed stating that the reasonable web-user, only surfing the Walla website and seeing the advertisement without entering the Cupid website as well, would conclude that the advertisement speaks of Mr. Zevuluni seeking love. The Court reiterated previous case-law including Borochov v. Poran and Weissman v. Golan, noting that publication on an Internet website constitutes publication for the purpose of the Libel Law. Therefore, the Court held the websites liable.

In determining the scope of damages to be paid, the Court took into consideration the fact that the websites took down the advertisement immediately upon Mr. Zevuluni's complaint and held that they pay damages of ILS 15,000 (approximately USD 4,000) instead of the ILS 50,000 sought by plaintiff.

Originally published on Ms. Kagan's blog e-legal on July 22, 2007 at www.odiakagan.typepad.com

Ms. Kagan specializes in Internet and IT law. Her articles on these subjects are published regularly in professional publications of the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association, as well as in national Israeli websites. Ms. Kagan authored the Israeli Chapter in the book "Cybercrime and Security," published worldwide by Oceana Publications, a division of Oxford University Press. A graduate of the Law Faculty of Tel Aviv University, Ms. Kagan is a member of the Israel and New York Bars, is qualified as a Solicitor in England & Wales and is also admitted as legal practitioner in New South Wales, Australia.

The Author's Name: Odia Kagan
City: Tel Aviv
Country: Israel
Phone: + 972-50-6530555
Fax: + 972-9-9513334
Email: odia@okaganlaw.com
Web Site: www.okaganlaw.com

IBLS Contributor: Odia Kagan, Tel Aviv, Israel, odia@okaganlaw.com

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