Israel Jumps On The Internet Censorship Band Wagon

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Israeli courts could soon be allowed to order tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to remove certain content considered to be incitement after a ministerial committee in the country approved draft legislation Sunday.

The statute, which is set to go to Israel’s parliament for final approval, would apparently equip the nation with the ability “to have content liable to lead to murder and terror removed immediately,” according to Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, reports Bloomberg.

Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have been spearheading the legislation in order to crack down on violent web content.

Shaked conceded that around 71 percent of 1,755 complaints reported to internet companies were addressed immediately, according to Bloomberg. But this was evidently not enough, since she feels the need to place the authorization of official government demands on the books.

People who are vehemently and violently against Israel — like Palestinians — have been arrested in the past year for making threatening comments about Israel and its people through social media.

Anas Abudaabes was arrested in Israel after he wrote on Facebook that “we should call our thugs to do what is necessary” and that “dry grass is faster to burn” referencing the then-blazing fires in Israel at the time, according to The New York Times. Through the social media platform, Abudaabes also expressed his wishes for strong winds and lightning, while also suggesting that gas should be poured on the land to literally fuel the fire.

Abudaabes, who said his online posts were meant to be satirical, was released after roughly four days. Many others have been arrested for similar comments on the internet, showcasing Israel’s struggle to balance free speech, while stopping possible acts of violence.

Social media is inarguably an effective tool for the communication and recruiting efforts of hateful or violent Israel-opposed groups. (RELATED: Twitter Claims To Have Shut Down 235,000 Accounts Connected To Terrorism In Past 6 Months)

The European Commission urged the biggest U.S. technology companies like Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, YouTube and Google to crack down further against online hate speech, or the Commission will reportedly enact laws forcing companies to do so — much like the legislative path Israel is currently on.

Families of the Orlando nightclub shooting victims filed a federal civil suit against Twitter, Facebook, and Google earlier this month for providing “the terrorist group ISIS with accounts they use to spread extremist propaganda, raise funds, and attract new recruits.”

In a highly similar scenario, the families of five Palestinian bombing victims are suing Facebook for $1 billion for allowing extremist militants to use its platform. (RELATED: Bereft Father Files Lawsuit On Social Media Giants Over Paris Attacks)

Several legal experts and lawyers told The Daily Caller News Foundation that those types of lawsuits (which are abundant in the past year or so) are likely to go nowhere due to dubious legality.

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