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September 16 1998  BRITAIN

Action promised over Net racism


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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