Now Israel Is Looking To Pass A Social Media Censorship Bill Too

from the this-will-be-abused dept

Like lots of other places around the globe, it appears that Israel is considering a dangerous social media censorship bill, that would force websites to remove content. It does have some safeguards, but, basically, if law enforcement claims a crime was committed via the publication of some content, a judge can issue a takedown order:

Under the proposed bill, a judge would be able to issue an order requiring a content publisher to remove posts from its website, if law enforcement agencies are convinced that a criminal offense has been committed through the publication of the content. It essentially allows Israeli authorities to block posts from any website featuring user-generated content, including Google, Twitter and Facebook, as well as news sites from being seen by Israeli viewers, including those with a paywall and those that require user registration.

That doesn't seem like real due process, of course. From the sound of it, you only have two parties involved -- law enforcement and the judge -- and not anyone representing the actual content creator/publisher. Thankfully, at least some are raising the alarm in Israel over this attack on free expression:

“The bill is broader than necessary and offers a substantial and procedural opening for government censorship,” the authors wrote. “Moreover, the bill also makes it possible to remove content from institutional content sites, like Israeli and foreign newspapers, at a level of intrusion that does not exist in any other country in the democratic world.”

Shwartz Altshuler told The Times of Israel on Tuesday that “the law applies to any website, with a paywall, or without, with registration or without. This means that one could go to court and ask for content removal even from news sites, which is unheard of.”

As they note in the article, this bill goes significantly further than the already wildly abused NetzDG law in Germany.

Among other things the law says it can be used for any crime that "might harm public safety" which is the kind of thing that law enforcement will claim at the drop of a hat about almost anything. Hopefully, legislators in Israel realize that this bill is half-baked.

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Filed Under: censorship, content moderation, due process, israel, social media


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