The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/z/zundel.ernst/press/globe-and-mail.0296



                     Title: When laws collide in cyberspace
                      By: Jack Kapica ["Cyberia" columnist]
                        In: The [Toronto] Globe and Mail
                         Date: Friday, February 9, 1996
             Note: Cyberia's Internet address: jkapica@GlobeAndMail.ca

So far, the Internet has largely had an American flavour, dominated as
it is by middle-class people whose understanding of correct behaviour
is based on an appreciation of U.S. law, culture and values.  But when
other countries and other laws enter cyberspace, trouble happens.

Not two months ago, a German prosecutor got a spectacular response
when he told CompuServe, the U.S. on-line giant, that allowing its
German subscribers access to sex-oriented newsgroups would violate
German law. Compuserve, in the only way it technically could,
responded by blocking out all subscribers' access to a series of
newsgroups, and freedom-of-speech supporters were appropriately
exercised.

Now, the T-Online service of Deutsche Telekom, which provides Internet
access to more than one million Germans, has blocked access to a
website carrying the views of Toronto-based Holocaust denier Ernst
Zundel. According to a Mannheim prosecutor, Germany's powerful laws
against spreading racial hatred apply to the "Zundelsite" too.

But to reach Mr. Zundel, who has subscribed to Webcom, an Internet
provider based in Santa Cruz, Calif., where the U.S. First Amendment
provides him more free-speech protection that [sic] he could enjoy in
Canada, T-Online had to block all data coming into Germany with the
word "Webcom" in the address (http://www.webcom/com/). That block
affected 1,531 Webcom subscribers as well.  The reaction has been
intense.

Many users became further concerned last week when Congress passed the
U.S. Telecom Bill, an omnibus piece of legislation containing a
repressive clause giving the state astonishing powers to prosecute
those who post "indecent" material on the Net. In this atmosphere, the
T-Online action constitues a further affront to the freedom-of-speech
sensibilities of many Net denizens, who may or may not be aware that
other countries do not share the U.S. perspective.

Declan McCullagh, a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, and
at least six others hastened others hastened to create "mirror sites"
that copy everything Mr. Zundel posts at Webcom, but makes it
available at different Net addresses not blocked by T-Online.

By the end of last week, Mr. McCullagh took down his website because
he felt that too many news stories were implicating Carnegie Mellon
for his act.  "I disassociate myself from this material completely and
entirely," he wrote about the Zundelsite
(http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/user/declan/www/Not_By_Me_Not_My_Views).
Reacting to all this, David Jones, of Electronic Frontier Canada, the
watchdog group monitoring censorship issues around the world, sent out
a press release noting that Germany's attempt to censor Mr. Zundel has
achieved the opposite effect, that of spreading Mr. Zundel's wretched
views.  "With the publicity," he writes, "more people might want to
visit these web pages to see what all the fuss is about."

This statement points to a growing philosophical problem in North
American society: the increasingly common accusation that the very act
of reporting the news is equivalent to propagandizing on behalf of the
people and events contained in that report. In the past, keeping an
eternal vigilance on society's misfits was considered one of the
prices of living in a democracy. But in a society increasingly reared
on the cult of celebrity, the matter is less clear. Now, it seems,
simply mentioning Mr. Zundel's views is tantamount to promulgating
them.

This debate leaves many people in the Jewish community in a dilemma:
Is it better to challenge those you disagree with, or ignore them?

The Nizkor Project, a British Columbia-based organization dedicated to
fighting racial hatred (http://www.almanac.bc.ca/), chooses the first
option. Ken McVay, its director, not only tries to counter Mr.
Zundel's allegations but provides a hot link to the "Zundelsite." The
strategy carries a price, however. Mr. McVay is finding that to
confront Mr. Zundel's presentations is to battle    endless
side-issues raised by Mr. Zundel, one of which is over the proper
venue to debate the matter (the Web or the alt.revisionism Usenet
newsgroup?).

Conversely, the Simon Wiesenthal Center (http://www.wiesenthal.com/),
also dedicated to the fight against racism, offers no link to Mr.
Zundel's page.



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