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Is Twitter Aiding and Abetting Terrorism? 315

Posted by timothy
from the xerox-is-next-and-then-faber-castell dept.
wiredmikey writes with word (and the following extract from a CNN report) that "Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, sent a letter to Twitter on Thursday asserting that the company is violating U.S. law by allowing groups such as Hezbollah and al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab to use its popular online network. ... In her letter, Darshan-Leitner noted that Hezbollah and al-Shabaab are officially designated as terrorist organizations under U.S. law. She also cited a 2010 Supreme Court case — Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project — which upheld a key provision of the Patriot Act prohibiting material support to groups designated as terrorist outfits."
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Is Twitter Aiding and Abetting Terrorism?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:20PM (#38545364)

    *Can* argue wether that law is overly broad and vague though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:22PM (#38545376)

    Terrorists use the air to transmit sound messages.

    • Terrorists use the air to transmit sound messages.

      The terrorists air is not under US jurisdiction. The US government or US companies can choose who they want to provide a service to.

      Twitter will probably not do anything until pushed -- and why do anything? If the organisations don't advocate terrorism on twitter but use it for other communication it could be a good thing -- getting some insight and so on.

      • by lorenlal (164133)

        :

        Twitter will probably not do anything until pushed -- and why do anything? If the organizations don't advocate terrorism on twitter but use it for other communication it could be a good thing -- getting some insight and so on.

        Although I doubt that their message (even if innocent) would fall under "good." I'll certainly agree with your point. If the posters violate the TOS, or if their posts somehow do violate laws, then Twitter is already perfectly aware of how to handle that. It just sounds to me that this particular "legal outfit" is feeling pretty smug about their little Twitter notice here.

        We can all see the content of these posts. I can't read it since I'm a stereotype American... But there are plenty of people who can.

    • by siddesu (698447) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:45PM (#38545832)
      This is why most anti-terrorist strategies read as if their first, blacked-out paragraph begins with "Imagine a spherical terrorist in vacuum".
    • "interesting" really? sheesh...

      "air" is not an entity that under a liable party's control is lending [b]material support[/b] to terrorists...

    • by catchblue22 (1004569) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @02:26AM (#38546464) Homepage

      Yes Twitter is and can be used for protest and civil disobedience ^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C Terrorism.

      • by cold fjord (826450) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @05:21AM (#38546862)

        Yes Twitter is and can be used for protest and civil disobedience ^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C^C Terrorism.

        Civil disobedience is getting arrested for refusing to leave the Mayor's office.
        Terrorism is killing the mayor and city council.

        Civil disobedience is trespassing on corporate property.
        Terrorism is blowing up the house of the CEO, killing her and her family.

        Civil disobedience is guerilla theater that gets you arrested for blocking traffic.
        Terrorism is flying a plane into the World Trade Center, or a truck bomb at the mall.

        Anyone more gifted than the mentally impaired shouldn't be confused about the difference between civil disobedience and terrorism. If what you are doing is resulting in large numbers of other people dying, it isn't likely to be civil disobedience.

  • by thephydes (727739) on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:23PM (#38545382)
    if the internet providers are aiding and abetting terrorism, or the phone system operators, or encrypted radio manufacturers, or SMS users etc etc
    • the keyword here is SUPPORT. Phones, mail services, SMS, etc are all fee-for-service and therefore if a terrorist uses them, he/she pays. No special "support". However Twitter (and Facebook, Gmail, etc) are FREE services, which means that the service is GIVING them a service, hence SUPPORT. If the group is identifyable, then Twitter could be liable.

      If Twitter wanted to argue this, they might have to show they the services aren't really free but just paid for by everyone (including the terrorists) in other w

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Well known already, and governments(along with the courts) already take ISP's to task for it. Unless there's a very specific reason not to. Here in canadaland for example, hezbollah actually hosts servers, but they're not shut down. The reasoning most people have behind this is because CSIS has taps on them. And it makes it nice and easy to run an open tap on them all the time and back fish them for information. Since they're a direct danger to Canada.

      The real problem is, various organizations like goo

    • by Edgester (105351)

      if the internet providers are aiding and abetting terrorism, or the phone system operators, or encrypted radio manufacturers, or SMS users etc etc

      Yes, but some or all of those are already being monitored by the government. I wonder if this is a ploy to get more government access to Twitter's database.

  • Phones (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:23PM (#38545384)
    What, you mean like cell phones do?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What, you mean like cell phones do?

      Cell phones have been used in terrorist attacks. In certain parts of Afghanistan cell phone towers have been shut down with the concept in mind that it's disrupting terrorist communication, now the Taliban forces the cell phone towers to be shut down basically to remind everyone in Afghanistan they're still around.

      Throw away phones are just that, one time use, throw away phones. There is no background check to buy one, you simply need cash. As much as there is no real easy way to determine what a throw a

  • So the terrorists are broadcasting their messages on twitter.. and they maybe have followers or something? Do they maybe want a you tube channel also?

    These guys are bright, I say let them be heard.
    • So the terrorists are broadcasting their messages on twitter.. and they maybe have followers or something?

      Not exactly. The account for Al-Shabaab hasn't twitted yet [twitter.com] (may be they're using Direct Messages). I hope that Israeli organization is proud of itself. That Twitter account was probably the only lead the CIA had on Al-Shabaab.

      And the Twitter account for Hezbollah is private, only has two followers, and seems to be under the name of some Jewish guy.
      https://twitter.com/#!/Hezbollah [twitter.com]

      I guess Twitter could always shut down that Hezbollah account on the grounds that impersonating a terrorist organization you're no

  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:31PM (#38545438)

    Now you'll have to check a box labeled "I am not a member of a terrorist organization" when you sign up.

    • by kawabago (551139) on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:39PM (#38545496)
      I was on a motorcycle trip through the Atlantic Provinces and the RCMP pulled me over and asked, "Are you a member of a criminal motorcycle gang?" "No." "Ok, you can go."
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 31, 2011 @12:02AM (#38545912)
        I was helping my mother-in-law fill out the application for a US visa, and there's a hilarious section of questions of the form: Have you sold any children into sex slavery? Are you a Nazi? Have you forcibly harvested anybody's organs to sell on the black market? I'm sure the number of slave-trading kidney-stealing Nazis they catch makes up for completely wasting my (and hundreds of thousands of other people's) time.
      • by shentino (1139071)

        At most it's good for piling on a perjury charge.

        Remember that they got capone on tax evasion, not racketeering.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Like when you apply for a US visa. No kidding - that is what they ask on the application form. They also want to know if you were involved in crimes against humanity during WW2 - again, no kidding. Fortunately I am an honest terrorist and crimes-against-humanity-committer, so I always answer yes to those questions.

      The stupidity of some bureaucrats is staggering.

      • by Jiro (131519)

        That is not stupidity, that is because they can expel you for lying on the application form.

      • That visa application could be the first step in the long line toward citizenship. And the U.S., like most countries, cannot expel a citizen.

        However, if you sign a false declaration in the process of becoming a citizen, you can be prosecuted for that crime, stripped of your earned citizenship, and then expelled. The U.S. has done this several times, usually to grandfathers who were Nazi prison guards in their youth.

        The reason the U.S. still asks is because we want to remind all those genocide-committing f

  • by Bravoc (771258)
    Is a "civil right organization" in Israel, telling a US company that it is violating US law?
  • Political logic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:34PM (#38545466)

    Phone companies and Internet companies and all companies that enable communications including paper manufacturers and pen manufacturers aid and abet terrorism.

    To defeat terrorism, we /must/ defeat all forms of communication at all costs.

    Please turn in your legal pads to the dean's bonfire pit right after chapel.

    --
    BMO

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Whatever happened on that Israeli passport fraud? I remember they clones European and US passports, they went to Dubai, killed someone, Interpol was given the evidence to catch them, Mossad head practically confirmed it with a smug 'ooo-yeh' style comment but whatever happened to that?

    It seems that Interpol should have had more success catching them by now?

    And whatever happened to the attack by Israel against civilian ships in International waters killing 8 unarmed people? We should have them in court by no

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Grishnakh (216268)

      Don't forget that Israeli Jews commonly spit on young girls who aren't dressed "modestly" and call them whores as they walk to school.

      http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2011/12/american-girl-8-is-target-of-ultra-orthodox-jews-in-israel/1?csp=obinsite [usatoday.com]

      I fail to see how Jews are any different from Muslims.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Don't forget that Israeli Jews commonly spit on young girls who aren't dressed "modestly" and call them whores as they walk to school.

        http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2011/12/american-girl-8-is-target-of-ultra-orthodox-jews-in-israel/1?csp=obinsite [usatoday.com]

        I fail to see how Jews are any different from Muslims.

        Or the fundamentalist Christians, for that matter.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          As bad as the fundamentalist Christians are, I've never seen them worry too much about dressing "modestly" and run around calling people who don't meet their standards "whores". They usually seem to get into more political issues like pushing for teaching Creationism in schools, pushing for more wars to bring Christianity to Islamic nations, etc., but meet one on the street and you won't be able to tell by the way they're dressed that they're any different from anyone else. Just don't try to hug one of th

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            As bad as the fundamentalist Christians are, I've never seen them worry too much about dressing "modestly" and run around calling people who don't meet their standards "whores". [...] Of course, there are those wackos from Fred Phelps' church, but that's only a handful of really off-the-wall people, a few dozen at most in a nation of 310+ million.

            Unless they're the same people who shot abortion doctors, or indeed called women whores for going to abortion clinics (with signs and with words) then there's at least a few handfuls. And if there's those few handfuls out in the open...

          • by Rinikusu (28164) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:36PM (#38545796)

            You aren't looking hard enough. The fundamentalist church I went to growing up required women to wear full length dresses, no make-up was allowed, and generally kept their heads covered with a scarf when in public (but that part wasn't really enforced), amongst other asinine restrictions regarding separation of genders, etc. In some of our "cousin" churches, they "make marriage vows" that explicitly state that they accept that their husbands may beat them into submission, and that they understand that's God's will and the like. Granted, I grew up in rural Tennessee, but this was pretty common through that area amongst the Pentacostal family of churches. When people say "American Taliban", I've seen it first hand.

          • As bad as the fundamentalist Christians are, I've never seen them worry too much about dressing "modestly" and run around calling people who don't meet their standards "whores".

            I miss the 70's too.
          • by Pseudonym (62607)

            As bad as the fundamentalist Christians are, I've never seen them worry too much about dressing "modestly" and run around calling people who don't meet their standards "whores".

            You say that as if women and girls aren't pressured to look and dress in certain ways in mainstream secular culture.

        • by indeterminator (1829904) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:42AM (#38546784)

          Or the fundamentalist Christians, for that matter.

          Religion supports terrorism, it needs to be banned.

      • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:38PM (#38545802)

        Don't forget that Israeli Jews commonly spit on young girls who aren't dressed "modestly" and call them whores as they walk to school.

        http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2011/12/american-girl-8-is-target-of-ultra-orthodox-jews-in-israel/1?csp=obinsite [usatoday.com]

        I fail to see how Jews are any different from Muslims.

        I think you're confusing a fraction of Israel's 10% Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, with the broader community of Jews. As far as I know, the behavior to which you're referring is abhorred by a majority of Israeli Jews.

      • Uh... I'd hate to let facts get in the way of your ranting, but there is wide-spread protest against this behavior by Jews. Many of the protestors are Orthodox Jews no less. The Chief Rabbi of Israel has even come out publicly condemning this behavior.

        Sources:
        http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=249899 [jpost.com]
        http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=251169 [jpost.com]

        When is the last time the majority of Muslims staged a public protest against the repression of women or terrorism?

      • by steelfood (895457)

        For starters, one's driving the cab, while the other's riding in the back.

        I think the lesson here is that religious extremism is a bad thing in general. The difference between religions is how likely they tend towards extremism based on their founding doctrines.

        As well, I think there's a cultural aspect involved. American Jews and Muslims tend to be less extreme than their European/Asian counterparts. And those in the middle class are more likely to tend towards centrism than either economic extreme.

        • by Pseudonym (62607)

          The difference between religions is how likely they tend towards extremism based on their founding doctrines.

          I disagree with that. The difference between cultures is how oppressed their people are (since more oppressed people tend to lash out). The difference between religions is whether or not they've been through an enlightenment reformation phase. That's why there is likely to never be such a thing as a Methodist terrorist or a Baha'i terrorist.

          Slight nit: If the religion has been through an enlightenment reformation phase, it's possible that there are remnant anti-enlightenment-reformation backlash movements.

      • d has prompted a call by Israeli President Shimon Peres to join a protest today against Jewish religious extremists. --- Thats for one. Meanwhile Multiple Arab countries sponsor terrorism.
  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:35PM (#38545470)

    Terrorists use twitter? Okay. Easily solution. Just ban Twitter. I mean a smart person would let the 'terrorists' congregate in the open and see if any of those fish lead you to a bigger fish or a whale but I guess just shutting Twitter down saves a lot of paperwork.

    Oh wait...terrorists are now using cell phones? Better ban those as well. Lord knows that we can't possibly let the terrorists win so we all must do our part and stop using phones of any kind. Anyone caught using a cell phone should of course be sent to Gitmo and heavily surfboarded*.

    Hang on now...terrorists are driving cars and using roads? Better outlaw cars and remove the roads and transportation systems. If my memory serves me correctly, the 9/11 hijackers drove to the airport that day. So by security theater logic, if there were no roads or cars that....no 9/11 happens. If only we had been prepared that day.

    Terrorists are using glasses to see better? Better create an entire government division to enforce and strictly regulate corrective vision dealers. Not a licensed corrective lens dealer? Then you're going to jail as part of the war on terror.

    *alternate non-torture version of waterboarding where you just beat someone in the head with a surfboard.

    • Re:Ban Sand (Score:4, Funny)

      by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @12:10AM (#38545944)

      Fuck it, ban sand. They live their lives in sand, it must do bad things for people. Hell, ban brown people, they persecute white people. Actually, last time I was in France I noticed a certain disdain, better ban all of the Romance language countries, obviously they hate us. Germanic languages apparently too, because they were anti-American. We had a world war over that.

      The only thing left for me to say is: Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.

  • I see no materials. I see them not limiting users except maybe Cuba and Iran per explicit rules, but a service not requiring too much personal information would have a hard time keeping any semianonymous group off. Slashdot would have the same problem for example.

    • Under the law, individuals face up to 15 years in prison for providing "material support" to FTOs, even if their work is intended to promote peaceful, lawful objectives. "Material support" is defined to include any "service," "training," "expert advice or assistance" or "personnel."

  • by russotto (537200) on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:40PM (#38545514) Journal

    Ms. Darshan-Leitner, had such laws been in effect prior to the establishment of the state of Israel, it is rather likely that the organizations which requested American aid and support for the establishment of the state of Israel would have been forbidden from doing so. And perhaps, then, the state of Israel would not have been established. Now that it has, how about you stop trying to take away the American freedom which assisted your nation into coming into being.

    (tl;dr: Go fuck yourself)

  • by jc42 (318812) on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:43PM (#38545530) Homepage Journal

    Let's suppose I have a web site that lets people post messages to a discussion. How would I go about discovering which of them are "terrorists" according to the US government's definition, so I can exclude them? None of the "terrorist" organizations seem to have posted their membership list online.

    Unless I can determine who is a member of any organization, I'll have to consider such laws as "secret laws" designed to trick me into unknowingly committing a crime. And I'll have to consider the legislative body that passed such laws my clear enemy.

    One obvious conjecture is that the intent of the law was to punish anyone who hosts a public forum on any topic. After all, it means that any organization can ask one member to join my forum, and then report me to the US government. I see no defense against this other than shutting down all public forums.

    • I was wondering that too. It looks like in this case, the so-designated terrorist groups self-identified. From the article:

      Hezbollah-controlled al-Manar television currently maintains a Twitter account with roughly 7,500 followers. Other groups considered terrorist organizations by the United States also maintain accounts. Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, posts regularly on at least one government-controlled account.

      Presumably in Ms. Darshan-Leitner's opinion, only the ones who are obviously terrorists need to be shut down. I have no idea what she is trying to accomplish from this, possibly just increase her own notoriety. From what I can see, she has no intention of actually filing a lawsuit.

  • by Lumpy (12016)

    Nuke it from orbit... do it now!

  • Twitter Terrorism (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ly4 (2353328) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:08PM (#38545656)
    As usual, Glenn Greenwald has covered 'twitter terrorism' and other parts of the never-ending war in all its absurdity: http://www.salon.com/2011/12/20/the_u_s_government_targets_twitter_terrorism/singleton/ [salon.com]
  • by introcept (1381101) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:33PM (#38545778)

    It should be stamped out ASAP

  • Great... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lightknight (213164) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:36PM (#38545792) Homepage

    So, you offer instead to block them from using this service, and drive them underground, where they would be harder to 'monitor'?

    At least this way you have an idea what their arguments are for their cause, and can easily offer a counter-argument (to their current or would-be followers). Offering a counter-argument for something you have no knowledge of, and whose members / followers are not readily identified / reached is a challenge to say the least.

    You have two ways of heading off potential problems -> allow an open forum where anyone can say whatever they want (no wiretapping necessary) but you have to put up with people saying things you disagree with / hate / consider morally objectionable, or have a closed one, where you have to wiretap the populace to ensure that the opinions / groups you disagree with aren't starting something. An open forum to air grievances / differing opinions, of course, tends to make a government last longer, and costs a lot less than wiretapping everything while providing better results.

    Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will scatter; strike the wrong shepherd, however, and a thousand shepherds will rise in his place. Suppression tends to work like that, like ablative armor. It works excellently at first, but through constant use begins to degrade and fail asymptotically. The US is over-quota for shepherds (they've reached their bag limit), so to speak, and are seeing the pendulum swing the other way. Yet, they insist on pushing even harder, apparently unaware of this trade-off effect.

  • by compucomp2 (1776668) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:43PM (#38545822)
    Sure looks like it here. An Israeli organization is telling the American legal system to crack down, through Twitter, on terrorist organizations which are only minor threats to the US (and in the case of Shabab, not even a threat to Israel).

    It's routine for the Americans to insist on other countries to do things for them, but they're now tolerating a Israel telling them to do something for Israel's benefit?
    • by houghi (78078)

      An old joke comes to mind about Soviet Russia and freedom of speech: In America there is freedom of speech. You can can say that your president is an idiot. Here in Soviet Russia we have the same freedom. We can say your president is an idiot, too.

      If the US follows up on it, then this is not the fault of the Israelis. It will be the fault of the US for thinking it was a great idea.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday December 31, 2011 @12:24AM (#38546018) Homepage Journal

    Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, sent a letter to Twitter on Thursday asserting that the company is violating U.S. law by allowing groups such as Hezbollah and al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab to use its popular online network

    So how does the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center suggest that Twitter prevent Hezbollah and al-Shabaab from using its service?

    Should Twitter require verified identities and then ban anyone with a Muslim-sounding name? Or should Twitter delete any message that contains any criticism of Israeli policy? Maybe the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center believes that there should be a greater level of surveillance internet-wide? Or maybe the Internet should be a walled garden so as to assure Israel that its enemies are unable to communicate?

    What steps exactly does Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center believe that Twitter should take?

    Who wants to bet that Israel is looking into the kind of telecommunications technology that allows countries like China and Syria and Iran to limit the kind of communications it doesn't like? That the next embargo on the Palestinians will be on their ability to communicate with the outside world?

    Maybe they believe they have to take this step in order to ensure Israel's security. But it would be nice if they just came out and said so instead of putting it on Twitter, as if the very existence of a service that allows people to post short comments online poses an existential threat. I'm not a fan of Twitter and I don't use it but Twitter is not the problem for Israel.

  • by xs650 (741277) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @01:00AM (#38546152)
    The 1%er powers that be and their government minions are scared to death of the 99% being able to communicate freely.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @01:37AM (#38546304) Homepage

    Israel gives radical fundamentalist Islamic terrorists a common cause around which to rally. Israel is an existential support to the extreme authoritarian regimes throughout the region. Israel's lightning rod behavior is materially supportive of the growth and expansion of terrorist organizations and ideology throughout the middle east. If Israel continues to flagrantly choose not to cease its existence of its own volition, it should be caused to cease to exist in the interest of eliminating the raison d'etre of so many terrorist organizations.

    Look, Israel: How 'bout you stop fucking with the founding principles of this nation, and we don't complain too loudly about all the money and bombs we give you -- those come out of my goddamn paycheck. It's already tiresome enough to have to carry around a screaming brat prima donna who likes to taunt bullies and fixate on suicidal promises made by a fictional deity a few thousand years ago. The least you could do is not kick us in the kidneys while we're doing it.

    Go Fuck Yourself,

    Bob

  • Let's also sue...

    1) The postal service, because they help letter bombs and the like reach their destinations
    2) Banks, since they store money and are responsible for the creation of new money, which might be used by a terrorist
    3) Cellphone makes and service providers, because they help terrorists communicate
    4) TV makes and news companies, since they report on terrorist attacks, which other terrorist can get ideas from
    5) The TSA, FBI, CIA, and so forth, because they are aiding terrorists by not catching all o

  • Are spoons responsible for obesity?

  • Allows us to become terrorists. ;-) True free speech does not judge or rule. So anti and pro movements should be able to use the platform to spread their message.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @03:29AM (#38546634) Homepage Journal

    What about going after the very very root cause of terrorism?

    The government?

    Abolish that and all of a sudden there is no longer terrorism.

    Government is root cause and the main generator of 99% of terrorism.

  • by Fuzzums (250400) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @06:26AM (#38547010) Homepage

    So if this law passes, next thing email will become illegal. Guns also will become illegal, airlines will get blamed for 9/11 and the internet will become illegal too?
    All because terrorists make use of it? Ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as blaming Twitter.

    It's time for some SERIOUS root cause analysis instead of this...

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