Netanyahu Nixes 'Facebook Bill' That Sought to Expand Government Control Over Internet

The measure, introduced by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, would have permitted authorities to take down any potentially criminal content in addition to terrorism-related posts

A man silhouetted against a video screen with a Facebook logo.
Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cancelled a legislative initiative to impose tighter government controls over the Internet.  

The last phases of legislation of the so-called “Facebook bill” had been scheduled for Knesset debate before the summer break. Netanyahu reportedly feels that the bill is extreme and impairs freedom of expression.

The bill, initiated by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), calls for, on the basis of a judicial order issued behind closed doors, allowing the state to instruct platforms to remove content deemed to contravene the criminal code.

In other countries, such laws exist to prevent terrorism and pornography.

The Israeli legislation is more sweeping as it seeks to cover a wider range of criminal offenses.

Some MKs had urged that a high level of danger to the public be proven before any content is removed, or that the measure be limited to barring incitement to terrorism. But these amendments were not added to the text.