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Occupied Palestinian territory: Report claims tech giants & Israeli telecommunication cos. are limiting digital rights; Twitter & Facebook respond

7amleh -  The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media - published a report claiming that Israeli telecommunications service providers were operating in Israeli settlements in the West Bank contrary to international law and called on these companies to review their involvement there. The report also alleged that Israel relied on cooperation with Twitter, YouTube (part of Google) and Facebook, to censor, block, and delete Palestinian content online and called on these companies to publish transparency reports about how they handled Israel’s requests to do so. Facebook and Twitter provided responses to the report, following our invitation, while YouTube / Google, and the Israeli telecom providers - Pelephone (part of Bezeq), Cellcom, Partner, HOT Mobile and Golan Telecom - did not respond.

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Company non-response
19 February 2019

Cellcom Israel did not respond

Company response
19 February 2019

Facebook's response to 'Connection Interrupted: Israel’s Control of the Palestinian ICT Infrastructure and Its Impact on Digital Rights' report

Author: Facebook

Facebook is committed to giving people around the world voice and the power to build community. Content on Facebook in Israel and Palestine is subject to the same Community Standards that govern our platform globally. Whenever we become aware of content that violates our Community Standards—whether through reports from people who use Facebook, NGOs, or governments—we remove it. 

We also sometimes receive reports from governments about content they believe violates the law. If this content does not violate our policies, we follow a consistent global process that includes careful legal review to confirm whether the report is valid as well as robust human rights due diligence. If we do take action on the basis of local law, we restrict the content only in the jurisdiction where it has been reported as illegal, notify the person who posted the content, and include the restriction in our bi-annual Transparency Report. As noted in our Transparency Report, we consider Israel and Palestine as distinct jurisdictions for the purpose of government requests.

Company non-response
19 February 2019

Golan Telecom did not respond

Company non-response
19 February 2019

HOT Mobile did not respond

Article
19 February 2019

Occupied Palestinian territory: Report claims tech giants & Israeli telecommunication cos. are limiting digital rights; Twitter & Facebook respond

Author: 7amleh - The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media

"Connection Interrupted: Israel’s Control of the Palestinian ICT Infrastructure and Its Impact on Digital Rights", Dec 2018

The development of information and communications technology (ICT) have allowed for an extensive flow of information in our lives surpassing territorial constraints. However, in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Israel has been controlling the ICT infrastructure since its began its military occupation in 1967. Although per the Oslo Accords, an Interim Agreement signed between Israel and Palestinian representatives in 1995, Israel transferred some of this control to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip... 7amleh documented how in addition to establishing the Cyber Unit, Israel relies on its cooperation with high-tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to censor, block, and delete Palestinian content online. In 2017, The head of the Israeli Cyber Unit said that 85 percent of Israeli government requests to “remove content deemed harmful or dangerous” from social media services such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter were accepted... In addition to the restrictions imposed on the Palestinian ICT sector, Israeli telecommunications service providers operate in Israeli settlements in the West Bank contrary to international law. There are currently five Israeli telecommunication companies operating in Israeli settlements, including Cellcom, Partner, Pelephone, Hot Mobile and Golan Telecom... 

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Company non-response
19 February 2019

Partner Communications did not respond

Company non-response
19 February 2019

Pelephone (part of Bezeq) did not respond

Company non-response
19 February 2019

YouTube (part of Google) did not respond

Company response
18 February 2019

Twitter's response to 'Connection Interrupted: Israel’s Control of the Palestinian ICT Infrastructure and Its Impact on Digital Rights' report

Author: Twitter

Transparency and user empowerment are two of our guiding principles at Twitter. Twice a year, Twitter publishes a transparency report that includes details about the government and non-government requests we receive. Our legal request FAQ details the approach we take, including a review of the reported account or Tweets for any indications that the request seeks to restrict or chill freedom of expression; raises other Twitter policy concerns (e.g., accounts belonging to journalists, verified accounts, or accounts containing political speech); or raises practical or technical concerns (e.g., the account or content at issue is no longer available).

To further our transparency efforts, we established a partnership with the Lumen project (formerly Chilling Effects) in 2010. Lumen is an independent third party research project studying cease and desist letters concerning online content. They collect and analyse complaints about online activity, especially requests to remove content. Unless we are prevented from doing so, when we withhold content in a certain country (and also for DMCA notices), Twitter will provide a copy of the request to Lumen so anyone can see what type of content was removed and who made the request.