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From jcostello@igc.apc.org Sat Feb  3 09:27:20 PST 1996
Article: 22527 of alt.revisionism
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From: James Costello 
Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Wiesenthal Center Statement
Message-ID: 
Date: Fri, 02 Feb 1996 22:55:41 -0800 (PST)
X-Gateway: notes@igc.apc.org
Lines: 70

Simon Wiesenthal Center News Release NEWS RELEASE

January 12, 1996

Wiesenthal Center Calls on Internet Providers To Adopt Voluntary
Standard of Ethics

 In the wake of the growing number of organized hate groups espousing
racism, antisemitism, violence and mayhem on the World Wide Web, the
Simon Wiesenthal Center has called upon companies providing Internet
hosting services to adopt voluntary acceptable-use guidelines that would
terminate services to individuals or groups promoting an agenda of hate
or violence.

 According to Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Center, "Like
the rest of America we welcome the Internet for its vast democratizing
potential, but these groups have adopted the Internet as their key
marketing tool in promoting hate." Last week the Center, the largest
member-based Jewish human rights organization with 425,000 members
world-wide, began mailing letters to hundreds of Internet hosting and
information providers in the United States, requesting that they adopt
acceptable-use standards similar to those used by other media providers,
and offering the Center's assistance in drafting such a code.

 "Over the last year the Internet, and specifically the World Wide Web,
has moved from being a niche medium with a small audience, to a mass
medium of unrivaled power that is leading the way in media convergence,"
said Cooper. "As this new and exciting industry has grown up almost
overnight, the rapid pace of growth has meant that providers have been
largely preoccupied with technical implementation and have had little
time to devote to the issue of ethics. Now that the Internet has become
a significant medium for publishing, broadcasting and advertising, it is
important that these questions be addressed." 

 The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been monitoring hate groups for more
than fifteen years. "We correctly label these groups the lunatic
fringe," said Cooper, "but it is a mistake to think they lack
sophistication. They have embraced this technology more quickly than any
other group of society and the tremendous power of the Internet has
allowed them to distribute more of their violent, racist material in a
single year than in the entire post-war period combined "There is no
doubt that much of this speech is protected in the United States by the
First Amendment, and clearly our government does not have a role in
prohibiting its use," said Cooper. "And it is important to emphasize
that we are not asking Internet access providers to block or prohibit
their customers from accessing such materials, or to limit private
e-mail or participation in usenet groups established to discuss these
issues."

 According to Cooper, "Radio and television executives and newspaper
editors have long understood that the First Amendment protects our
citizenry from interference by the government, but does not obligate
media channels to publish or distribute, unfiltered, materials they
consider false, inflammatory, hateful and unfair. In this regard, the
media has played an important role in marginalizing bigotry and hatred
in the United States, and it is the Wiesenthal Center's position that
such a role is essential for the Internet and World Wide Web community,
as well." 

"We are under no illusion that adopting such acceptable-use standards
will keep these groups from promulgating their message of hate across
the Internet. We are simply asking those who are in the business of
selling Internet presence and information services, to do the right
thing, and tell these groups to take their money elsewhere," said
Cooper.

Copyright ) 1995, The Simon Wiesenthal Center
9760 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90035





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