The bill which was drafted by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked would empower Israeli Administrative Courts to issue orders to remove online content at the request of state prosecutors.
“The Facebook bill was brought into the world as a result of last year’s wave of terror and the Palestinian incitement against the State of Israel which sparked it; That is the sole issue this bill seeks to address,” a representative of Shaked told The Jerusalem Post.
According to the bill, court orders would be able to target content that “the very posting of is a criminal offense, and whose public visibility has a real potential to put personal, public and national security at risk.” While both conditions need to be met for a court to issue the order, the state would be able to request these orders without giving social media platforms the ability to reply in court, based on classified evidence or evidence that would not be considered admissible in other cases.
Since the bill’s first draft, Erdan has backed down from his original aspiration of seeing content completely removed from the Internet on demand. The current bill only goes as far as to demand that posts are removed from visibility in Israel, as is Facebook’s existing policy on such cases.
“The bill includes various instructions and limitations in order to prevent damage to freedom of speech while also allowing the law enforcement agencies to work more efficiently on the matter,” the introduction to the bill stated.
The bill’s name has since been changed from the Removal of Terror-Inciting Content from Social Media bill to the Removal of Criminally Offensive Content from the Internet bill, in what some consider an appeasement of companies like Google, Twitter and mainly Facebook, which Erdan has personally attacked in the past.
Others, however, believe that the new name and the vague language of the bill itself make it too general and an actual risk to freedom of speech, despite what the ministers have claimed.