UK regulator mulls fine for RT over Ukrainian news coverage

Israel’s ‘Facebook bill’ threatens to worsen online censorship, experts say

LONDON: Israeli authorities are preparing to pass a controversial social media incitement bill, commonly known as the “Facebook bill”, in a move that threatens to worsen online censorship during heightened tensions with the Palestinians.

The bill, which allows the Israeli government to remove content it considers ‘incitement’ or ’causes harm’ on social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, goes further than similar laws seen elsewhere .

It allows Israeli authorities to block content from all websites, including news sites, subjecting them to the same regulations as social media platforms.

It will also grant Israel’s attorney general the power to use secret evidence in court to remove content and prevent content creators from defending themselves and their work.

“This is an unprecedented attack on freedom of expression,” one social media user said.

Another denounced Israel’s hypocrisy saying, “If they had nothing to hide, they wouldn’t take such drastic measures.

Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously approved the bill in December last year, a move that experts say will transform the relationship between Israeli authorities and social media platforms.

Nadim Nashif, founder and director of digital rights organization 7amleh, stressed in an op-ed that the bill “will be used to silence activists and journalists who report on human rights abuses. by Israel, as Israel’s vague incitement laws are already being used to undermine freedom of expression and criminalize Palestinian journalists and activists who report on the ground and publish Israeli violations online.

“The expanded ability to block news sites expands the censorship powers of Israeli authorities, in a way that goes beyond democratic principles regarding freedom of expression and diversity of opinion,” Nashif wrote.

While the passage of this bill is a severe blow to Palestinian freedom of expression, it is neither new nor uncommon.

During last year’s attacks on Gaza, Facebook and Instagram deleted hundreds of posts related to Palestine. 7amleh has documented over 700 cases of Palestinian digital rights violations, 500 of which took place between May 6 and May 19 alone.

At the time, Facebook claimed the problem was technical rather than political, pointing out that during the recent dispute, the tech giant had dedicated an entire team, including Arabic and Hebrew speakers, to monitor the situation on the ground and remove harmful content.

However, while 7amleh believed that efforts by social media to limit future violations of users’ digital rights were important, he asserted that these efforts did not go far enough.

Christi C. Elwood