SHIRI FISHMAN WRITES – Since 2015, Israel has been using a new system known as Preventative Policing, in an effort to suppress terrorism. This system uses algorithms and data analysis to predict if, where, and when crimes may occur, specifically by Palestinians. Israel uses this program to monitor Facebook and other social media accounts of suspected terrorists, families, friends and coworkers. The ACLU in the United States is critical of the preventative policing tactic, calling it “discriminatory” and arguing that it “reinforces police bias.”
Since 2015, Israel has detained over 800 Palestinians because of content that was either written or shared online. The posts mainly contained criticisms and opinions on Israel’s policies or recent governmental threats. This demonstrates a clear bias. Israel even publicly stated that it does not monitor its Jewish Israeli citizens, although there have been instances of crime committed.
Yisrael Katz, Israel’s Intelligence Affairs Minister claimed, “Because of this unique new system that was developed and put into operation here, hundreds of cases of attacks have been prevented.” The peak of attempted attacks rose to 80 in October 2015, but since April 2016, there have been less than 20 attempted attacks a month. Katz continued, “Arrests were made, terror attacks went down. The cause is deserving- preventing terror attacks. It is not as if someone invented a way to haunt someone on Facebook.”
The EU has taken notice of Israel’s tactics following some devastating terror attacks lately. The EU’s counterterrorism coordinator met with Israeli officials and expressed an interest in adopting similar Israeli technologies. However, in the EU the use of such a system falls just out of the scope of fundamental rights.
Israel has accused certain social media sites of not only hosting but also facilitating a platform for terror and incitement that justifies “preventative policing” as an absolutely necessary tactic, in order to combat terrorist collusion on social media. However, this system has had to draw a very thin, fine line between justifiable protective measures and outright invasion of privacy. This monitoring systems also begs the question of how much social media is involved in not just people’s daily lives but behind-the-scenes as well.