Israel On The Verge To Censor Facebook As Bill Passes First Reading

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Israel On The Verge To Censor Facebook As Bill Passes First Reading

A bill allowing the removal of criminally offensive content from the Internet – dubbed the “Facebook bill” – has passed its first reading on Tuesday morning in the Knesset plenum in Israel.

The “Facebook bill” sponsored by ministers Gilad Erdan and Ayelet Shaked would allow Israeli courts to immediately order content taken down if it is deemed to pose a public, personal or state security risk and constitutes a criminal offense.

The bill proposes to authorize the Administrative Court to issue, on behalf of a plaintiff, an order to remove content from the Internet in cases where there exist two cumulative conditions:

  • That publishing the content constitutes a criminal offense.
  • That there exists a real possibility that publishing the content would harm the safety of an individual, the public, or the state.

JewishPress reports that the bill includes instructions and limits to prevent excessive harm to the freedom of expression, and to permit efficient action by law enforcement.

The bill enables an Administrative Court judge to issue an order to Internet service providers such as Facebook, upon the state’s request, to remove online inciting content.

The vote was 36 for, 2 against.

The bill will now move to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee for amendments in preparation for a second and third plenum vote.

Facebook adheres to its own removal policy when it comes to online content and freedom of speech issues, which has earned it criticism from Israeli politicians and officials who have called for the company to remove offending posts by Palestinians.

Dpa/NAN reports that Facebook officials had met with Erdan and Shaked in September to address their concerns over material on the website deemed to incite terrorism, and Facebook was one of four companies that last month announced a shared initiative to more actively curb such content.



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