Democracy in the Information Age

This program seeks to harness technology to transform government and make it more transparent, accountable and effective. The program devises policies, regulatory proposals and innovative software platforms designed to improve service, enhance transparency, boost accountability and raise citizen participation. 

In recent years, the program has partnered with Google Israel to place municipal budgets online, worked with regulators to craft an open database policy, and helped the Israeli government meet its obligations under the "Open Government Partnership" of the world's leading tech nations.

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    Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler


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    Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler is a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute and head of the institute’s Media Reform Program and Democracy in the Information Age Program.

    She holds a doctorate in law (LLD) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and completed her post-doctoral studies at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. 

    She is a board member of the Israel National Press Council, a board member of the Israeli Digital Rights Movement, a board member of the Center for Ethics in Jerusalem and a member of the Supreme Council of Archives of the State of Israel.

    In recent years, Dr. Shwartz Altshuler has composed the journalistic code of ethics for Israel’s public broadcasting corporation (“Kan”) and for the Globes business newspaper; drafted a bill for a new privacy law in Israel; and appeared regularly in the Israeli and international media on issues relating to media, technology, democracy, and human rights. She has also published a number of books, articles, policy studies, and expert opinions on these subjects.

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    Rotem Medzini

    Research Assistant

IDI experts' report on digital contact tracing highlights its importance as a helpful tool in addition to human epidemiological investigations

IDI's Dr. Tehilla Shwartz speaks with Amanda Borschel-Dan on a Times of Israel podcast about the resurgence of COVID-19 cases and how Israel's government is tracking them.

ISA's tracking of civilians is being discussed in the Knesset Subcommittee for Secret Services. As Israel is beginning to emerge from a state of emergency, less invasive alternatives should be adopted.

Information is power. Governments and private entities that have access to vast troves of information have vast power.

Privacy doesn't have to be sacrificed in order to protect citizens from the coronavirus - it too must be protected

Israel has authorized its secret services to carry out extensive surveillance of civilians in the battle against the Coronavirus. In most other democracies there is dedicated legislation to deal with information gathering during the epidemic. IDI's experts complied a comparative review.

How is the coronavirus pandemic changing the way governments track their citizens? IDI expert takes a look around the world to see what policies countries are implementing.

We must take advantage of the technological tools at our disposal to battle the coronavirus - without forfeiting our right to privacy

The new regulations that allow the ISA to track citizens threatens our right to privacy, and set a dangerous precedent that could remain with us long after the COVID-19 crisis comes to an end

The sharing of medical data has extremely positive potential. It can help with predicting rare diseases, early detection and more exact diagnoses than are possible with existing medical capabilities.

They are everywhere, argued the PM after pushing to install them in polling stations. He's right, and that's exactly the problem

Technological progress has created a situation of severe tension and incompatibility between the right to privacy and the extensive data pooling on which the digital economy is based. This development requires new thinking about the substance of that right.

What is the media's responsibility in covering the protests of the Ethiopian community against and what are the problems in the coverage?

Can the Mueller report shed light on the labyrinth of cyber connections, which are at the basis of the suspected criminal activity? Probably not.

Today, Israeli election law focuses on banning propaganda conducted by means of boats and planes (e.g. adverts on them).

How should media outlets in Israel prepare themselves for “fake news” campaigns and how has the digital sphere become the “Wild West?” Tipping Point hosts Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler to discuss the extent Israeli elections are influenced by digital campaigns

If we want to preserve a healthy democratic process, and especially public trust that it is possible to hold fair elections in this country, democracy must stand up and protect itself

Iran has apparently hacked the cellphone of Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Netanyahu's main challenger in the April 9 elections. But despite serving as a tool in Likud's campaign, it has not derailed the democratic process in any significant way. In this conversation Eli Bahar, former legal adviser to Shin Bet and IDI fellow, and Ron Shamir, the former head of the technology division at Shin Bet and a fellow at the Hebrew University's Federman Cybersecurity Center, discuss with Tel Aviv Review's Gilad Halpern the danger posed by potential cyber-attacks on Israeli democracy

Eli Bahar and Ron Shamir examine the threats posed by foreign intervention (in its broadest sense) in Israel’s Knesset elections—by means of Cyber-attacks, whether at the state or sub-state level


It is difficult to identify them - they are hidden, disguised, sophisticated and resonate to us what our immediate surroundings think. During the election campaign they are at their peak - bots, fake accounts, unnamed identifiers - all trying to influence public opinion. We bring to you 5 tips for managing smart online presence

In an op-ed published in Techcrunch, Dr. Shwartz Altshuler analyzes the dangers of exploiting one of Israel's rare assets - an extraordinary volume of computerized healthcare information, and the potential damage it could cause.

Transparency International is among the most prominent global organizations fighting corruption through exposure, documentation and measurement.
Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of the organization, discusses the challenges, pitfalls and goals of their work, while Alona Vinograd of the Israel Democracy Institute brings the question of corruption home to Israel against the backdrop of a heated political stage.

Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler sat down with The Israel Project to discuss Israeli Security Agency’s warning against foreign countries’ intervention in Israel’s upcoming elections

In 2016, Israelis’ trust in the mass media reached an all-time low. But the decline seems to have bottomed out then; the increase in trust registered in 2017 has continued this year and reached 31%. This is still low as compared to many other institutions, but is all the same an improvement.

We would not be global leaders in cyber and technology without simultaneously protecting fundamental human rights.

Trust in Israeli media is on the rise, and that's a valuable lifeline to those whose job it is to keep the public informed.

Black Friday is a good reminder that that in order to protect our privacy as well as minimize the use of personal data to influence our ability to make free choices, there needs to be a change in consumers’ habits as well as increased digital literacy. 

The digital domain has developed into something of a wild west for election campaigning in recent years. While there are strict laws governing the press, radio, and television, there are almost no restrictions on online campaigning, such as on the forms of advertising permitted, the use of personal data, and advertising budgets. This lack of regulation has already been shown to potentially affect election results, and may lead to the misuse of information on residents, routinely collected by the municipality as part of its function by those in positions of power in local government. 

The Facebook Bill, which would allow the government to use administrative means to remove content from social networking sites, would both set a precedent and be ineffective

Priavcy is a requirement for the proper functioning of any democratic society.

The sale of Mobileye to Intel is not surprising when you consider that last year MIT Technology Review ranked the Jerusalem-based company as one of the 10 smartest companies in the world. As such, the real story is the relationship between government, society, and technology.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that “the time has come for the Start-Up Nation to also have a Start-Up Government.” I agree. But can it be done?

What is the state of freedom of information in Israel? Like in the US, there is good and bad news.

In Israel, we talk a lot about innovation. But what does the term really mean?

Ahead of a recent discussion by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on the “Facebook Bill,” IDI’s Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler wrote a policy statement in which she called the bill non-applicable to the modern day. She said the bill is likely to cause disproportionate censorship through what will be dysfunctional legal proceedings.

Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler argues that the Protection of Privacy Law does not create an absolute right, and whoever enters public life must be able to give up parts of his/her privacy, no matter how difficult that might be. This op-ed originally appeared in the Atlanta Jewish Times.

The challenge of freedom of information goes beyond the balance between the right to information and the limits of that right.

Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler argues that the main reason the coup in Turkey fizzled is not because of Erdogan’s FaceTime message, but because he had been anticipating this putsch for quite a few years and had arranged the entire legal apparatus that governs the relationship between the Turkish government and the media accordingly. 

Privacy Matters in the Digital Age

March 26, 2017

Priavcy is a requirement for the proper functioning of any democratic society.

As violent extremism grows in cyberspace, IDI and Yad Vashem team up to tackle online hate speech. Meeting on November 7 for the first of a series of international workshops intended to formulate policy recommendations for governments and social media corporations.

  • Participation by invitation only

IDI hosts a timely workshop that examines the connection between advances in digital technology, development and dissemination of media content, good government and the future viability of Israel's democracy.

  • Participation by invitation only

The growing use of computers in all areas of life is rapidly changing the legal landscape. The frequency of computer is causing regulatory agencies to request that their authority to search online content (including mobile devices) be expanded. This IDI discussion was by invitation only.