Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Thursday that she would propose a law that would impose heavy fines on social media networks that refuse to remove content that incites others to carry out terror attacks.
Speaking to Army Radio, Shaked said that during the recent spate of lone-wolf vehicular and stabbing attacks over the last year and a half, Israel was able to physically foil attacks but was often powerless to prevent a wave of incitement on social media that she called the “engine” of the terror wave.
“We felt that Israel’s sovereignty had really been impaired,” she said.
Shaked’s proposal for fines comes a month after the Knesset overwhelmingly approved, in its first reading, legislation known as the “Facebook Law,” which would allow the state to appeal to the judiciary in the event that a company like Facebook or Twitter refuse to remove a post or advertising that the government believes is inciting. The court can then issue an order compelling the site to remove the content.
While the Facebook Law must make it through two more Knesset readings, the justice minister’s proposed new legislation is seen as an attempt to give it further bite by imposing fines of millions of shekels.
Shaked said inspiration for the fines came after a meeting Wednesday with German Justice Minister Heiko Maas, who noted that Germany was also dealing with incitement against Jews and immigrants and that Berlin has found the imposition of fines to be an effective deterrence.
But legal experts have pointed to possible difficulties in defining exactly what content is incitement, as well as threats to freedom of speech.
Shaked dismissed these concerns, saying that “if it is possible to deter [sites] through fines… this is something that is preferred.”