Free speech rights vs. vi­o­lent con­tent

Is­raeli gov­ern­ment ad­vances a “Facebook Law” against in­cite­ment

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD - By Gwen Ack­er­man The As­so­ci­ated Press

Is­raeli courts could de­mand that com­pa­nies such as Facebook Inc. re­move con­tent deemed as in­cite­ment, un­der a bill that will head for par­lia­men­tary ap­proval amid con­cerns about free speech.

The law would give Is­rael the tools “to have con­tent li­able to lead to mur­der and ter­ror re­moved im­me­di­ately,” Public Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Gi­lad Er­dan said via text mes­sage af­ter an Is­raeli min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee ap­proved the bill Sun­day.

Er­dan and Jus­tice Min­is­ter Ayelet Shaked have con­tin­ued push­ing the bill even af­ter Facebook agreed in a Septem­ber meet­ing to cre­ate joint teams to deal with in­ter­net in­cite­ment. Is­rael’s Cabi­net said Sun­day it would dis­cuss even tougher mea­sures against vi­o­lent con­tent on the web, with­out in­di­cat­ing what those mea­sures might be.

The in­ter­net giants aren’t ig­nor­ing the prob­lem: Facebook, Mi­crosoft, Twit­ter and YouTube said this month they were cre­at­ing a shared data­base to help en­force poli­cies against on­line ter­ror­ist con­tent. Af­ter the Septem­ber meet­ing in Is­rael, Facebook said it has “zero toler- ance for ter­ror­ism.”

Facebook said Sun­day it works “ag­gres­sively” to re­move prob­lem­atic con­tent “as soon as we be­come aware of it.” The com­pany said it hopes to con­tinue a “con­struc­tive di­a­logue” with Is­rael that in­cludes “care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion of the im­pli­ca­tions of this bill for Is­raeli democ­racy, free­dom of speech, the open in­ter­net and the dy­namism of the Is­raeli in­ter­net sec­tor.”

Te­hilla Shwartz Alt­shuler, head of the Is­rael Democ­racy In­sti­tute’s Cen­ter for Demo­cratic Val­ues and In­sti­tu­tions, called the bill “an as­sault on free­dom of ex­pres­sion on an in­ter­na­tional scale.” Com­pared with sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion in other coun­tries, the Is­raeli bill would hold con­tent providers such as Facebook and Google par­ent Al­pha­bet Inc. to a much higher level of re­spon­si­bil­ity, Shwartz Alt­shuler said. “The ‘Facebook Bill’ needs to be sub­stan­tially re­vised,” she said.

Af­ter at­tack­ers opened fire in De­cem­ber 2015 in San Bernardino, Calif., killing 14 peo­ple and wound­ing 22, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama asked Sil­i­con Val­ley firms to work with law en­force­ment to pre­vent ter­ror­ists from us­ing so­cial me­dia and en­cryp­tion tech­nolo­gies to en­cour­age vi­o­lence.

Fake news story sets off Is­rael-Pak­istan Twit­ter feud. A fake news story has

touched off a tense Twit­ter con­fronta­tion be­tween nu­clear power Pak­istan and Is­rael, widely be­lieved to have a nu­clear arse­nal of its own, in an episode that un­der­lines the po­ten­tially harm­ful im­pact of such sto­ries in sen­si­tive global af­fairs

In an ap­par­ent re­sponse to a fake story claim­ing Is­rael’s for­mer de­fense min­is­ter threat­ened a nu­clear at­tack against Pak­istan if it sends troops to Syria, Pak­istan’s de­fense min­is­ter, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, re­minded Is­rael that “Pak­istan is a nu­clear state too.”

Is­rael’s De­fense Min­istry tweeted back Satur­day, say­ing the orig­i­nal story on the site AWD News was “to­tally fic­ti­tious.”

AWD has been iden­ti­fied by fact-check­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions as a fake news site.

Is­rael main­tains a pol­icy of nu­clear am­bi­gu­ity, nei­ther con­firm­ing nor deny­ing the ex­is­tence of an arse­nal. Pak­istan be­came a nu­clear power in 1998. The coun­tries have no diplo­matic ties.

There was no im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion from Pak­istan to Is­rael’s re­sponse.

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