Israel Eyes Law to Ban Incitement on Social Media

TEL AVIV (Reuters) -

Israel’s Justice Ministry is drafting legislation that would enable it to order purveyors of social media to remove postings it deems to be inciting terrorism.

“We are working on draft legislation, similar to what is being done in other countries; one law that would allow for a judicial injunction to order the removal of certain content, such as websites that incite to terrorism,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said.

“There should be some measure of accountability for internet companies regarding the illegal activities and content that is published through their services,” Shaked told a cybersecurity conference in Tel Aviv this week.

A spokeswoman for Shaked said it was too early to say what measures or sanctions might be included in the law, which would need parliamentary approval, but that it was likely to be similar to those introduced in France.

France has made far-reaching changes to surveillance laws since the attacks on Charlie Hebdo last year. It has taken steps to blacklist jihadi sites that “apologize for terrorism,” but stopped short of using such laws to censor major internet services.

“The legislation … will focus on removing prohibited content, with an emphasis on terrorist content, or blocking access to prohibited content,” Shaked’s spokeswoman said.

Governments around the world have been grappling with how to block online incitement to criminal activity, while major internet services have stepped up campaigns to identify and remove web postings that incite violence.

Shaked said governments and internet services need to find ways to cooperate so that companies can quickly take down content deemed criminal that has been published on their platform.

“We are promoting cooperation with content providers, sensitizing them as to content that violates Israeli law or the provider’s terms of service,” Shaked said.