Google denies Israeli YouTube monitoring deal

The Israeli government has corrected its statement on Google agreeing to help monitor YouTube content after the tech giant denied an agreement had been reached.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Google has denied that it made a deal with the Israeli government to assist in monitoring YouTube videos inciting attacks on Israelis, saying its meeting with the minister was routine.

According to a previous statement from the Foreign Ministry, Google executives met last week with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely and agreed to institute a mechanism whereby they would jointly monitor online activity, including YouTube videos encouraging attacks on Israelis.

However, Google on Monday denied that it had made any such deal.

The meeting between Hotovely and Google's senior counsel for public policy, Juniper Downs, and YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki was just "one of many that we have with policymakers from different countries to explain our policies on controversial content, flagging, and removals", a Google spokesperson told AFP.

"The Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs has corrected its original announcement, which, in error, suggested there had been an agreement with Google to establish a mechanism to monitor online materials," the spokesperson added.

The Foreign Ministry has since updated the statement on its website to reflect this, but ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said the Israeli government remains "extremely grateful for the good relations with Google", suggesting that the two entities will still be working together to flag and remove "dangerous" material.

"Our common objective is to remove dangerous incitement to violence on social media," the government spokesperson said.

"We have full confidence in the Google teams dealing with this removal."

More than 100 Palestinians and 17 Israelis have been killed over the last two months in stabbing, shooting, and car ramming attacks, with the Israeli government pointing towards online posts and videos as a cause for incitement.

Google has a strong presence in Israel, having bought Israeli ride-sharing startup Waze in 2013 for $1 billion. Waze and Google then launched a match-making service for commuters called RideWith in July this year, connecting drivers with passengers who have similar daily routes to and from work.

Waze already provides the Israeli government with data as part of a scheme called "Connected Citizens".

The project, which also involves local governments in New York, Jakarta, Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona, San Jose, Boston, Florida, Utah, and Los Angeles, sees Waze hand over anonymous crowdsourced real-time traffic data.

With AAP

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