Israeli Election at Risk of Foreign Cyber Interference

The April 9th elections in Israel are at high risk of being influenced by foreign manipulators, including Russia, according to Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman. These attacks will reportedly also target banks and electricity across the nation.

To adequately protect Israel’s elections from third party influencers, private-sector lawyers Shachar Ben Meir and Isaac Aviram suggested that the government pass legislation restricting anonymous ads on the internet, believing them to be a key source of electoral influence.

The Likud Party, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said on Tuesday that it would block any attempt at safeguarding the election from ad manipulation and web propaganda.

Roy Folkman, an Israeli representative, said, “In recent months, I had many meetings with officials from Google and Facebook who say there are many forces outside of Israel that are involved behind the scenes of Israeli politics that – together with Israeli political factors – fund propaganda and campaigns and use fictitious usernames to spread unverified information.”

Israel currently has propaganda-preventing legislation in place known as the Election Law of 1959, but it doesn’t extend to the internet. Israel’s Central Elections Committee head Salim Joubran said in 2015 that the current protections are “outdated” and “archaic.”

Likud Attorney Avi Halevy, while responding to attention over reforms, said, “The digital world is complicated, and we must thoroughly examine all legislation relating to limiting and regulating its use. This will not be possible before the upcoming Knesset election.”

The Times of Israel cited that they had direct intel into the Prime Minister’s office, where he had apparently explicitly ordered the halt of any kind of legislative movement to incorporate the internet into standing propaganda legislation.

Yesh Atid, an opposing party, claims stalling to be suspicious behavior on the part of the governing party and an admission of guilt to be “spreading lies and fake news.”

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