Archive/File: orgs/canadian/canadian-jewish-congress/marches-to-modems/mtm-003-01 Last-Modified: 1997/03/30 3.1 The Internet - Hate In Cyberspace by Bernie M. Farber Throughout the rise of the Heritage Front, organizers such as Lemire, Droege, Burdi, and others, began to realize the potential of utilizing new technology as a means by which to spread their messages. It is cheap; it's easy; and it has the potential to reach millions. The internet. Like a walk through the shouk or the kasba, today's internet offers access to whatever the heart desires. Without leaving the comfort of our office or living room, and by finding the right newsgroup or websites, today's computer literate society can travel to Paris, tour the Louvre, climb Mount Everest, chat with Bill or Hilary Clinton and even download recipes from world famous chefs. However, the dark side of the equation is bleak indeed. Sexual predators, hustlers, scam artists, child pornographers and hate-mongers also populate cyberspace, thankfully on its periphery. Some argue that the internet is but a mirror of the world. Good and bad, intelligent and stupid, love and hate, are part of the society we live in and therefore one should not be surprised to find them on the information super-highway or at least a gravelly side-road. However, in the real world we have to deal with issues of responsibility, sensitivity and a balancing of rights. These are accomplished through various means. In a free and democratic society the best possible choice to ensure one's rights are respected is through a combination of law with individual and corporate responsibility. For example, newspapers, radio and tv, and other forms of inter-global communications have established various sets of guidelines which give definition to what they will print, broadcast or communicate. In various provinces, newspapers fall under the auspices of Press Councils . Where editors and journalists have crossed the bounds of decency, the press council will adjudicate and decide on the appropriate sanctions if necessary. Even within certain large newspapers, codes and guidelines have been worked out. For example, the Toronto Star has established what have become known as "advocacy advertising guidelines." These guidelines assure that specific religious minorities, visible and other vulnerable minorities are not targeted by the unscrupulous to promote hatred, contempt or religious conversion. In broadcasting, the CRTC ensures that radio and tv meet the standards expected by a decent society. As a result, the likes of Ernst Zundel, George Burdi, or Wolfgang Droege would never be given air-time to expound on their hateful views. Even ham radio operators must abide by an international set of guidelines in order to receive a radio operator' s license. Citizen band radio operators have similar regulations. This brings us to the internet. Many suggest that the technology of the internet transcends man-made law and therefore, the internet, unlike newspapers, radio and tv cannot be so easily controlled. Others, purists, demand that the internet be left untouched as the last domain of free expression in the communications frontier. The internet is indeed complex new technology. In fact, one can hide in the internet world and be close to invisible. There is great difficulty in clearly identifying those who post abhorrent messages, like garish billboards, on the super information highway. Some have even suggested that this technology makes it impossible in any way to control the net. And yet, only last year we note that a man was convicted in Toronto for downloading pornographic pictures of children on the internet for others to view. Only recently, another individual from Kirkland Lake, Ontario has been charged in the largest seizure of child pornographic material on the internet in its history. And in Ottawa a Department of Defense physicist was charged late last year under child pornography laws for downloading pornographic material from his government-supplied computer. So policing does take place and at least, in these cases, seemed technologically viable. And many ask why not? In Canada and many other democratic countries around the world there are laws dealing with child pornography, hate-mongering, copyright, fraud, etc., all serving as a means by which we choose to live. If the internet is part of society, should it not be subject to society's laws? In the last couple of years we have heard of two significant decisions by internet servers: firstly Compuserve's resolution to shut down a number of news groups dealing with sexual pornography on the net and secondly the determination by Deutcher Telekom to close down Ernst Zundel's web site in Germany. On the first issue of sexual pornography, Compuserve announced that it had closed access world-wide to more than 200 internet user groups, the vast majority of which dealt specifically with child pornography, as a result of a request from a Munich prosecutor who warned that Compuserve would be held legally accountable for distributing illegal sexual material in Germany. This was historically the first time that a government's action led to a world-wide ban on the internet. A number of months later, Canada's I-Star, another large internet service provider, also limited access to child pornography sites on the internet. In the second case, that of the notorious Canadian landed immigrant and Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, the T-on line service of Deutcher Telekom claimed that it voluntarily blocked access to Zundelsite the world wide web page operated by Zundel. However, it should be noted that this action occurred shortly after a Manheim Germany State Prosecutor warned Deutcher Telekom that it was investigating whether or not the service was "helping to incite racial hatred" which is a crime in Germany. Deutcher Telekom has more than one million customers in Germany and it has bitterly complained that it is unreasonable for the German government to hold the server responsible for antisemitic material appearing on one of its world wide web pages. The real question in this case therefore, is whether it was necessary for state sponsored censorship to be invoked or if less intrusive means were available. In this light it is absolutely necessary to understand the concerns of vulnerable minorities. Recently, the Jewish Public Library of Montreal in cooperation with Canadian Jewish Congress, Quebec Region, held a seminar dealing with the promotion of racial tolerance in the world of cyber hate. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Weisenthal Centre, explained to the audience that well known hate monger Tom Metzger, leader of the White Aryan Resistance (WAR) and a resident of Fallbrook, California, spent most of his twenty year career as a hate monger, distributing flyers on street corners and operating a telephone hate line from his home. Six months ago he went on- line. For the first time in his career as one of America's most notorious hate-mongers, Metzger had a way to reach a world-wide audience, specifically targeting youth. Glenda Carmen, a communications associate at the Canadian Jewish Congress, in a recent paper she prepared dealing with hate online noted that " since going on line, the White Aryan Resistance has had more exposure and the membership growing at a faster pace than Tom Metzger's previous group did in its twenty year history."
It should be remembered that it was Tom Metzger's group, WAR, which a Portland, Oregon jury found liable ( to the tune of $12 million) for inciting a group of neo-Nazi skinheads to murder a young Ethiopian immigrant in that city a few years ago. Similarly, in the past, Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel's ability to access the young was strictly curtailed both in Canada and many areas around the world. Even in the United States, Satellite TV banned his Holocaust denial program following complaints from viewers. With the advent of Lemire's Freedom Site and the Zundelsite high school students and many others need only type in the word "Nazi" or even "Holocaust" onto their web browser and pull up pages and pages of antisemitic Holocaust denial garbage. The hatemonger's dream of being able to spread his poison worldwide has become society's nightmare.
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