Israel to work with US, UN on social network regulation

Yoaz Hendel with UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres  credit: Ministry of Communications spokespersonres

Minister of Communications Yoaz Hendel has held meetings with US senators and UN General Secretary António Guterres.

Last week, Minister of Communications Yoaz Hendel held meetings in New York and Washington with executives from the major technology companies and with administration officials and legislators, and discussed with them the promotion of regulation of social networks. The meetings were part of Hendel's preparations for the work of a committee on the matter that he is in the process of setting up, and came against the background of Chinese investment in communications infrastructure. Hendel met senior managers from Facebook, Google, Cisco, Netflix and other companies, besides meetings with senators.

At his meeting with Senator Ben Ray Luján, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, Hendel discussed the need for cooperation between regulators in order to create effective regulation of social networks. On Luján's subcommittee sit two senators who are currently leading the hearings for the technology companies in the Senate: Amy Klobuchar, who heads the Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, and Richard Blumenthal, who heads the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security. "Globes" has learned that Hendel and Blumenthal agreed that Blumenthal and his team will appear before the committee that Hendel is forming.

The senator's staff will present their conceptual framework, and their work in the Senate, and review their progress on the matter to date. Cooperation of this kind will assist Israel in keeping abreast of developments in this field, rather than having to wait for regulatory legislation in another country in order to start a similar process in Israel, something that could take years.

Cooperation was also agreed in a meeting held by Hendel and Israel's ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan with UN General Secretary António Guterres. Israel will take part in a committee to be formed at the UN to examine the question of regulation of social networks and to consider the problem of incitement and fake news. Erdan will coordinate cooperation between Israel and the UN on matters relating to responsibility for content on the part of social networks and internet companies, with the aim of preventing anti-Semitic content and incitement. Erdan will update the group being formed in the UN on progress in Israel on regulation of social networks.

In Israel, two committees are reported to have been formed on the matter. New Hope party chairman and Minister of Justice Gideon Sa'ar has announced a committee on law and technology that will cover a range of areas, from artificial intelligence to commerce and incitement on social networks. Another committee being formed by Hendel, that will report to Sa'ar's committee, will deal with transparency and responsibility on the part of social networks, from revealing their algorithms to setting up customer service centers, which the technology giants might be obliged to operate. Thus, for example, the committee will consider to what extent Facebook will be obliged to justify its decisions on blocking users. Through this move, Hendel is in effect defining social networks as communications media and not just platforms.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 26, 2021.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2021.

Yoaz Hendel with UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres  credit: Ministry of Communications spokespersonres
Yoaz Hendel with UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres credit: Ministry of Communications spokespersonres
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