Israel to give backlinks control over online searches
Posted On June 17, 2021
Israel will allow search engines to keep their backlinks data for a limited time, after the US Congress approved a measure that would give the government more control over the data.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that the data would be held in Israel’s central database and the country’s data protection authority would be able to use it to decide whether to delete or not.
Netanyahu said in a speech that the legislation, which was passed by the US Senate and will now go to the House of Representatives, would allow Israel to control search engine backlinks.
“We will make this happen through our central database,” he said.
“We will give the information to the data protection authorities, which will be able in the future to decide how to use the information.”
Israel has long been criticised by the internet giants for its reliance on backlinks from overseas websites, particularly on the backpages of US-based search engines.
The government has been trying to limit such practices, but in recent months it has introduced new measures aimed at preventing the practice from happening.
The legislation was introduced in January by Republican Representative Joe Barton of Texas, a supporter of Israel.
“Backlinks are vital to the internet economy, as they are the link that connects the home page to the search engine and the search engines back,” Barton said in the introduction to the legislation.
“They’re critical to the viability of the online economy.
That’s why we should make it harder for companies to circumvent these regulations.”
In the US, Google and Microsoft have blocked foreign sites from accessing their backlink data.
The measure, which does not affect foreign searches, was endorsed by US Senators Mark Warner of Virginia, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Al Franken of Minnesota.
The bill was also supported by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, who are US-listed companies.
In a statement on Thursday, Yahoo said: “This bill would not only give consumers greater control over their online searches, it would allow them to see what companies are paying to rank them in search results.
That would make it easier for consumers to choose the most relevant sites.”
Google said in an emailed statement: “Google’s policy is to let companies choose the best search results and the most trustworthy data they use.
That is not a right that can be taken away from users.”
Google does not use data from foreign search engines like Google.
Google said the legislation was aimed at “making it harder to circumvent the US government’s search blocking policies, such as those against backlinks and other kinds of data collection”.
The bill has already received bipartisan support in Congress, which is currently debating an extension of an emergency spending bill that expires on Monday.
The United States has been facing a massive wave of cyber attacks since the beginning of the year, and on Wednesday a group of computer scientists told the House Intelligence Committee that there was evidence that hackers had stolen at least $3 billion in sensitive data from the federal government.
The cyberattack was linked to the breach at the Democratic National Committee last month.
The committee’s chairman, Representative Adam Schiff, said the attack on the DNC was “the most significant breach of the DNC’s data in US history”.