Itamar Ben-Gvir, chairman of Israel’s right-wing Otzma Yehudit political party, has reportedly filed a criminal complaint against social media platform Facebook. Ben-Gvir alleges he was wire-tapped by Facebook after his wife’s WhatsApp account along with about 30 other Israeli accounts were blocked.
WhatsApp is a secure messaging app owned by Facebook which offers its users end-to-end encryption. The application is commonly used by Americans traveling overseas, by overseas military people to communicate with friends and family in America among other uses as it offers a costly alternative to global cell plans.
The Daily Wire reports:
The complaint was filed against two executives in the Facebook office in Tel Aviv — CEO Ad Soffer Teeni, and Jordana Cutler, the head of Public Policy. Ben-Gvir’s complaint came after it was reported that, in “a rare move undertaken by Facebook,” the WhatsApp accounts of least 30 people in Israel were blocked, according to the liberal site, Haaretz. One of those affected was Ayala Ben-Gvir, the wife of Itamar Ben-Gvir, and Benzi Gopstein, a “longtime ally” of Ben-Gvir and chairman of the far-right group, Lehava, according to The Jerusalem Post.
“There is no room here to detail the seriousness of the events and the conduct of the overextension that harms the entire fabric of my wife’s life,” Ben-Gvir said, before explaining that his wife “is a teacher,” and that “corresponding with students on WhatsApp is a part of her job.”
“Facebook is denying freedom of speech. Intervening in elections in Israel and abroad, but blocking the WhatsApp accounts of about 30 members of Otsma Yehudit, is becoming very serious, as today it proved that Facebook not only harms the freedom of expression, but also allows itself to invade privacy and to enter to privet WhatsApp accounts,” Ben-Gvir added.
“I will never forget or forgive on the morning when I found my wife crying, after Facebook deleted her WhatsApp account with the last memories from her sister that have passed away in a young age,” Ben-Gvir wrote. “There is a consensus in the Knesset today that Facebook crosses borders and I will use this consensus to pass legislation against Facebook and limit its activities in Israel.”
This is only the latest example of Facebook inserting itself into politics. Last week, Facebook announced former President Trump would be banned from the platform for two more years.