The chairman of Israeli right-wing political party Otzma Yehudit, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has come after Facebook with a criminal complaint about fears his family and his political allies might have been wiretapped by the social media giant.
Ben-Gvir’s complaint targets in particular two Facebook executives from the big tech company’s office in Tel Aviv, namely Ad Soffer Teeni, CEO, and head of public policy Jordana Cutler.
The right-wing political leader’s legal action comes against the backdrop of reports of a “rare move” by Facebook, in which at least 30 people in Israel affiliated with his Otzma Yehudit party have had their Whatsapp accounts blocked, according to Haaretz, a liberal newspaper.
Wiretapping WhatsApp messages?
The individuals affected by the measure include Itamar Ben-Gvir’s wife Ayala Ben-Gvir, and his “longtime ally” Benzi Gopstein, who is the chairman of the Lehava far-right group, The Jerusalem Post reported.
According to the Jewish Press press, Ben-Gvir requested that the police start investigations against the heads of Facebook in the country for wiretapping private messages of some 30 people and over these individuals’ permanent suspension from the app, his wife included.
WhatsApp, which is a secure messaging app owned by Facebook, offers its users end-to-end encryption.
Ben-Gvir told local media that wiretapping is a criminal offense punishable with up to 5 years in prison.
He added that his wife was a teacher who uses Whatsapp for daily correspondence with her students.
In his words, the alleged wiretapping incident is extremely serious, and the big tech giant’s overextension has caused tremendous harm to his wife’s life.
Israeli leftists support Facebook
In a special statement on his allegations, Ben-Gvir declared that Facebook crossed all possible red lines, and that now is the perfect time to act against the social media giant.
He accused the company of cracking down on the right to freedom of speech and expression of some 30 members of his political party, Otzma Yehudit, but also of invading their privacy and tampering with their Whatsapp accounts.
He stated further how he is never going to forget how Facebook deleted his wife’s Whatsapp account, including her last memories from her late sister on there, leading the former to burst out crying.
Ben-Gvir stressed the existence of a consensus in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, and he would use that consensus in order to pass legislation limiting the social media’s Israeli operations.
At the same time, MK Rossi Raz from the left-wing Israeli political party Meretz issued a statement saying Facebook’s decision to block people from the far-right side of the political spectrum was the right decision.
Raz expressed hopes the country’s judicial system would support the big tech giant.