Jerusalem - Proliferation Of Bus Crash Pix And Information On Social Media Prompts Haredi MK To Call For Stricter Privacy Laws
Jerusalem - Outraged by the rapid flow of information and pictures of yesterday’s tragic bus crash that spread like wildfire on social media, a member of the Israeli Knesset is calling for tighter enforcement of the country’s privacy law as well as an amendment to that law that would further restrict the flow of information in similar situations.
MK Rabbi Israel Eichler, chairman of the Knesset’s Public Petitions Committee, submitted a bill that would make it illegal to publicize the names of casualties or fatalities before they have been officially confirmed.
Eichler’s bill would be an amendment to Israel’s existing Privacy Protection Act originally enacted in 1981 and later amended with a requirement to blur victims’ faces in all distributed photographs.
In a VIN News interview, Eichler said that photographs of accident victims were being widely circulated by private parties on social media and What’s App within an hour of the deadly collision.
“There were pictures of people sent and shared, with people lying on the ground, injured and even dead, without any mercy,” Eichler told VIN News. “That is a violation of the law.”
Erroneous information regarding the accident was also sent freely through the same channels, according to Eichler.
“Some of the names mentioned were not correct,” said Eichler. “They said that the two sisters who were riding on the bus had died and they named them by name. Neither had died: one was lightly injured while the other was more critically injured. They also said that two children had died which wasn’t true.”
Worse than misinformation being spread, was the accurate data being circulated, with families learning that a loved one had died through What’s App and social media before being notified through official channels.
“Years ago people were more sensitive and they had more respect for the dead,” said Eichler. “We live in a cruel world where the value of life is cheap. These bloody pictures forever ruin a person’s sensitivity. We have reached a point where people aren’t embarrassed to send a picture showing faces of the dead which was once a tremendous taboo.”
While the Privacy Protection Act has been in effect for decades it is rarely enforced, according to Eichler.
“This is not a new thing,” said Eichler. “Already in the past war, names of soldiers who were killed or injured have come out through What’s App and other social media without being officially confirmed. At times it was completely incorrect and when it was correct, it was even worse because families learned about deaths through What’s App.”
Eichler’s bill would make it illegal to include the names of any casualties or victims without their permission or that of official police, army or medical channels. He also called upon the minister of justice to indict individuals who violate the Privacy Protection Act and to make them subject to enforceable penalties.
“This is a brutal vice that hurts those injured and adds pain to the families, all because of a wild lust to shoot and distribute horrific images that reduce the value of human life in the eyes of its viewers, images that darken the feelings of mercy and gentleness and corrupt the human soul.”
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