Religion Magazine

Doubling Down on Kosher Internet

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
The fight by Haredi leadership against Internet use among the Haredi public is picking up a notch.
According to Kooker, despite their best efforts with campaigns and protests and rallies, the use of smartphones, and internet in general (i.e. via computers) continues to spread even in the Haredi community.
To that end, they are picking up the campaign and going to run campaigns in communities around Israel against the dangers of technology. The two interesting points in the upcoming campaign are:
1. they are going to stop focusing on smartphones and expand the reach to laptops. From now on, people who need computers (to write their divrei torah) and are given a hetter to use one will only be given a hetter to use laptops that will be kosher laptops -like they made kosher phones with certification, they'll do the same for laptops.
2. members of Haredi communities will be asked by the rav of the community to sign that they do not have smartphones, and if they do have internet access what the purpose is. The rabbonim will also somehow be authorized to verify that and ensure reports signed on were true and not falsified.
Regarding #1 with kosher laptops... somebody (an askan) is going to make a lot of money disabling internet access on thousands of laptops or manufacturing laptops for this market. Where do I sign up to do the work and get authorized to issue the kosher stickers? The askan can take his percentage, but I'd like to make some money off it too.
I cannot imagine DELL, HP, Lenovo, Toshiba. Fujitsu. Asus or any other company agreeing to make a few thousand laptops with less technology, and to keep making new ones each year.
Regarding #2, they tried that, or something very similar, already in Bet Shemesh a year and a half ago. The Haver program was sold with a massive marketing campaign, and when it came down to reality, it fizzled out. I don't know if they just didn't get enough people willing to sign or if they lost their energy and just didn't manage it very well in the follow-up or if they just weren't capable of doing what they had planned at the time, but they disappeared very quickly.
I would suggest that if the campaigns until have not really been effective, as they admit the use continues to spread, perhaps more of the same, doubling down with the same strategy, is not what should be done. I  think the campaigns have been pretty successful - having a kosher phone is standard in the Haredi community, bu tit seems likely that many either ignore it or buy a smartphone in addition to the kosher phone, so while an askan somewhere is making his money, the people still have their internet access.
So, instead of doubling down, and trying to do the same thing with computers, in what will surely be another failure (assuming the first really was a failure of sorts), maybe it is time to try a new approach.
Instead of ramming this down the communities throats and banning and threatening, and all that, maybe they should try something else. If they asked me, I'd suggest education. Teach the community to use the Internet responsibly. With filters as well. Maybe there are other ideas people have. Maybe they need to bang their heads together and come up with a new idea, but when something doesn't work, doing it even more usually isn't the solution.
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