Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The Israeli occupation Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved recently a draft bill that gives Israeli authorities broad powers to censor Palestinian digital content.
Last Wednesday, Israeli lawmakers provided preliminary approval to the bill; brought forward by MK Meir Yitzhak Halevi from Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party.
It was also initially promoted by the previous government, but then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ultimately decided to shelve it because of his growing use of social media for his own political purposes.
The bill must now go through three more plenary votes.
First, dubbed under the name “Facebook Law,” the bill would allow district court judges to remove posts not just from Facebook, and not even just from all social media outlets, as its official name implies, but from any website at all, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Second, in addition to defining the crime, the bill includes vague considerations about possible harm to “an individual’s safety,” “public safety” and “national security.”
These are very broad terms that are open to different interpretations, frequently political ones. And as both military censorship and judicial gag orders have proven, despite the standard of “near certainty” set by the High Court of Justice, in the vast majority of cases judges approve requests of this type almost automatically, in ex parte hearings and with the evidence heard on camera – practices the current bill would also allow, the newspaper added.
Third, the bill also drags internet service providers into this mess, as they may be asked to block access in ‘Israel’ to content that websites don’t agree to remove, including news sites, on the grounds that they “incite or invite incitement”, and refer their owners for investigation and prosecution.
The Palestinian Digital Rights Coalition and the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council warned of the dangerous repercussions of the law on Palestinian rights.