Friday, April 23, 2021

Israel on the way to approve ‘Facebook Law’

By Maria Correia - July 18, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [social media] [Israeli law] [censorship]

The Israeli government has passed the first reading of the 'Facebook Bill,’ which is a legislation that seeks to tackle potential terrorism and incitement on the Internet. 

The bill is meant to be an extension of the government’s existing counterterror resources.
The bill would allow for the state to force social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, Telegram and Reddit, to delete content that Israel considers incitement without the current process requirements.
It would also block certain content from search engines.
It would ensure Israel the legal authority to fast-track the removal of any content that is deemed 'illegal’ or 'endangering personal, public and national security’ through the courts, without having to present evidence.
The bill is sponsored by Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, and Justice Minister Aylelet Shaked. Shaked stated: “Israel is fighting and will continue to fight terrorism, also on the Internet.”
The bill has been in the works since 2016. After President Donald Trump announced the U.S Embassy move to Jerusalem, the number of requests from Israel to remove problematic content grew significantly - from 95 a month in January 2017 to 2,420 a month in December 2017.
Although Facebook has agreed to most of the requests to remove content, the Facebook Bill would ensure quicker action. The law would ensure even broader persecution of oppositional voices
Earlier this year Israel threatened Twitter with legal action due to ignored requests to remove content that was 'inciting or supportive of terrorism’ according to Israel.
The bill has caused major concerns about free speech. In a letter drafted by the Israel Democracy Institute, they say “the bill reflects a need to deal with harmful content published on social media but it does so in too broad with potential to cause more harm”.
The Institute has called the bill akin to censorship. They have concerns that the law would be used to censor any political criticism of the government and that “the bill allows for a level in invasiveness that does not exist in any other democratic country.”
Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, the head of the Israel Democracy Institute’s Center for Media Reform Program and Open Government Program said in a report that while the bill seeks to tackle terrorism it is in reality a censorship technique.
A Facebook spokesperson assured that “[at] Facebook, nothing is more important than community safety and we work hard to keep people safe.”
She added: “We have zero tolerance for terrorists, praise for their acts and incitement to real-world violence. We work aggressively to remove it from our platform as soon as we become aware of it.”
The Palestinian Information Ministry condemned the bill, and in a statement brought forth concerns about the bill potentially concealing IDF crimes against Palestinians.
Israel has already been imprisoning Palestinians for social media posts that are deemed as incitement but has failed to do the same for Israelis that have openly called for violence towards Palestinians online.
No other country has provisions as broad as the bill is proposing. The legislation is expected to be voted on before July 22.

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