A pro-Israel group is all aflutter over Twitter allowing groups on the U.S. Terrorist list access to the social media site. Can they stop Twitter?
The group Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center (ILC) has the stated goal of "Bankrupting terrorism, one lawsuit at a time." And their most recent target will be Twitter, which is being used by Hezbollah, in what the ILC suggests is an illegal provision of "assistance and support" to a terrorist organization.
The San Francisco-based Twitter spokesman reportedly had no comment regarding the threat of a lawsuit, nor about providing access to Twitter accounts for a known terrorist organization as reported at MSNBC.
While Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who is the executive director of the ILC, suggests that Twitter has been an aid to Hezbollah in its function as a terrorist organization, Hisham Matar has written an article published at the UK Telegraph which makes the point of how the effects of social media have been over-stated. Matar did offer some credit to Twitter and also Facebook, but made the case that even in the Arab Spring, the real work was done by people without access to social media.
The ILC however has sent a letter to Twitter headquarters demanding they "cease and desist" supporting all Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) including Al-Shabaab, Al-Manar TV and presumably Al Qaeda.
Britain also suggested that social media firms played a significant role in the U.K. riots this year, while US Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has led the Congressional push to have Twitter close some accounts which are deemed to be pro-Taliban as reported at PR Week.
Sen. Lieberman sits on the Homeland Security Committee in the US Senate.
Twitter, despite being around for only five years, is no stranger to legal actions seeking to silence the voice of a person. The accounts of some Occupy Boston activists were subpoenaed by Suffolk County (Mass.) prosecutors today with the ALCU also being involved in process.
CNN reports the Suffolk County DA spokesman as saying: "We investigate and prosecute criminal acts," Wark said. "We have no interest in investigating political speech or political opinions."
The unidentified Suffolk County judge in the case impounded all of the documents and held only a private hearing, rather than a hearing open to the public. The Mass. ACLU Executive director Carol Rose described the closed hearing as being "troubling in both law and democracy"
ACLU attorney Peter Krupp said in the article: "There is a constitutional right to write things on the Internet," ..."There is a constitutional right to do that anonymously."
In this case, the subpoena was requested to be kept secret from the users, as reported at Yahoo by Mashable though, the subpoena was leaked and made public.
That brought the issue of online privacy into the mix for both Twitter and the legal system to work out, if possible.
Which brings it back round to the ILC and their threatened lawsuit against Twitter for disseminating communications which are in support of unlawful actions. The question being whether or not Twitter will be forced to shut down from the United States, where free speech is guaranteed, the accounts of persons in a foreign nation, where freedom of speech is nothing but a dream, or wishful thinking.
Executive Director Darshan-Leitner stated: Hezbollah "and its terrorist networks have entered the global world of social media to further their murderous agenda. Twitter’s complicit service to known foreign terrorist organizations is not only morally irresponsible, it is also illegal.
While the aims and goals of Hezbollah are open to interpretation according to some, the legality of whether or not the ILC can force Twitter to close the accounts of Hezbollah adherents is a matter which will likely be decided in a court of law.