Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met late on Wednesday in central city of Petah Tikva with Israel’s top high-tech executives, including the heads of Google and Facebook Israel, reportedly over fears over growing regulatory enforcement.
No official reason was given for the meeting and no agenda was provided, but several Knesset committees are deliberating legislation that pertains to their activities and the assumption is that these companies hope to enlist the prime minister to influence the legislation and limit its impact.
Spokesman for both Facebook and Google denied anyone from their companies had attended the meeting.
The meeting was held at the offices of NGSoft, a unit of the BATM group which once employed Netanyahu as an consultant, and streets near the offices were blocked to traffic. Among those attending was Haim Shani, a former treasury director general and now a partner with the IGB fund; representatives of the German software company SAP and high-tech entrepreneur Elisha Banai.
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The last year has seen growing concern about the power of multinational internet companies in the world and in Israel. Israel’s web publishers are now mounting a campaign to win advertising away from Facebook and Google (see story on this page).