September 16 1998 BRITAIN Action promised over Net racism BY RICHARD FORD, HOME CORRESPONDENT THE National Criminal Intelligence Service is to play a central role in efforts to curb the spread of racist and other illegal material on the Internet, Jack Straw has indicated. The Home Secretary said that the Internet was "vulnerable to abuse because websites and newsgroups are accessible from across international borders". Many of the far Right and neo-Nazi websites originate from the United States, Canada, Germany and Scandinavia. The Home Secretary said it was essential that governments co-operated to assist in the removal of illegal material and in the prosecution of its originators. NCIS, which has been working with other police forces around the world to break up child pornography rings, submitted a report on other illegal uses of the Internet to the Government this year. A spokesman said: "We have identified racism as a potential problem and made recommendations for a strategy for law enforcement on the Internet. When information is passed to us about material published on the Net, what we can do is identify what jurisdiction it comes from, identify the service provider and alert the relevant authorities." Addressing the Board of Deputies of British Jews on Monday evening, Mr Straw also said that ministers were monitoring the problem of "Holocaust denial". The Government was reluctant to ban it, he said; there was a need to balance guarding against offence, such as that caused by claims that the Nazi Holocaust did not happen, with free speech. There was a danger that, "by introducing legislation, we would play into the hands of those who peddle these lies by giving them a public platform". Copyright 1998 Times Newspapers Ltd. This service is provided on Times Newspapers' standard terms and conditions. To inquire about a licence to reproduce material from The Times, visit the Syndication website.
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