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Israeli legal committee approves bill to censor internet

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The legal committee of Israel’s ministerial council approved on Monday an “anti-incitement” bill which paves the way for censoring internet content, including Facebook and Twitter posts, Quds Press has reported. The bill is now ready to be proposed to the Knesset for its first reading.

If it becomes law, the bill will allow Israeli courts to ask operators of internet networks, including news websites, blogs and social media, to delete without delay content that is deemed to be “incitement”. This is defined as anything that is illegal or a “tangible” threat to a person, the Israeli public or the state.

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked introduced the bill to the ministerial council. According to Shaked, reported Haaretz, Facebook’s administrators have been responding to Israeli requests to delete 95 per cent of content regarded as “incitement”.

The Israeli Democracy Institute, however, has warned that this bill will undermine freedom of expression “due to the impossibility to legally determine that an individual post is legal or not.” The bill, added the institute, would never achieve its goal because any content which is posted on any social media could be published simultaneously by any other alternative website.

Quds Press said that human rights groups know of around 400 Palestinians – 150 from the occupied West Bank and 250 from Israel – who have been arrested by the Israeli authorities since the start of October last year on charges related to their posts on social media.

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