Erdan warns Twitter may face criminal charges in Israel over terror accounts
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Erdan warns Twitter may face criminal charges in Israel over terror accounts

Public security minister says platform's refusal to ban users who 'call for the murder of innocents' is intolerable

Public  Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem, February 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem, February 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has called on Twitter to ban accounts tied to terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, warning the social media giant may face prosecution in Israel if it fails to do so.

Erdan on Tuesday said he had sent a letter on the matter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. He told the International Homeland Security Forum in Jerusalem that unlike other social media companies, Twitter in many cases has declined to remove content posted by terrorist groups.

“It is intolerable that organizations calling for the murder of innocents should be able to openly run Twitter accounts,” Erdan said.

He added that allowing such activity could breach Israeli law and leave Twitter open to criminal charges in Israeli courts.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks at a conference hosted by the Makor Rishon newspaper and the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem, March 11, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In March Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked also threatened legal action against Twitter over the social media giant’s alleged refusal to crack down on posts by terror operatives.

“The terrorist organizations switched to Twitter instead of Facebook. The reason is simple: Facebook responds effectively to our requests to remove the contents of terrorism, while Twitter ignores them,” the minister said. “We are considering legal action against them.”

She said she was not referring to “legitimate criticism of Israel” but calls for “explicit violence, against Israelis, against Israeli targets, against Jews.”

Erdan said Israeli authorities have foiled over 200 Palestinian terror attacks by monitoring social media and sifting through vast amounts of data to identify prospective assailants ahead of time.

These preemptive actions put Israel at the forefront of an increasingly popular — and controversial — trend used by intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world that use big data technology to track would-be criminals.

Erdan, who oversees the national police force, said Israel’s use of algorithms and other technology has been an important factor in lowering the number of knife and shooting attacks in Israel in recent years.

“The experience we now have, we can help other countries deal with this kind of terrorism,” he said. He said working with allies “can lead us to a much better result in fighting lone wolf terrorists.”

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