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[FYI] (Fwd) Berlin Conference Urges Action on Web Hate Sites

------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      	Mon, 26 Jun 2000 15:29:37 -0400
From:           	David Banisar <banisar@privacy.org>
Subject:        	Berlin Conference Urges Action on Web Hate Sites
To:             	Global Internet Liberty Campaign <gilc-plan@gilc.org>
Send reply to:  	gilc-plan@gilc.org

Berlin Conference Urges Action on Web Hate Sites
12:38 p.m. ET (1638 GMT) June 26, 2000

BERLIN (Reuters) - German President Johannes Rau called on Monday for
a system of rules to govern the Internet to combat the rise in Web
sites promoting racism and xenophobia.

"We need a framework that sets boundaries for the use of modern 
information technology,'' Rau said at the start of a two-day 
conference in Berlin on hate-speech on the Internet.

"We cannot just stand by and watch while opponents of human rights and
those contemptuous of democracy exploit these new technological
possibilities,'' said Rau, whose office is primarily ceremonial.

The conference's co-organizers, the Los Angeles-based Simon 
Wiesenthal Center named after the Austrian Nazi hunter, said while
there was just one Web site promoting hate in 1995, there were now
over 2,000.

In Germany alone the number of extreme right-wing homepages has 
jumped to 330 this year, about 10 times more than four years ago, the
country's internal security watchdog says.

Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin told the conference Germany was
very worried about the trend.

"To stop hate on the Internet we need European initiatives, but also
action that reaches beyond Europe,'' she said.

European Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Antonio Vitorino 
agreed. "The Internet is an international phenomenon in every sense of
the word and any effective response will hinge on high levels of
international cooperation,'' he said.

Vitorino said there was still a worrying level of racism and 
xenophobia in Europe and said neo-Nazi groups had moved their home
pages to servers outside the continent to sell their books and
insignia and promote far-right theories.


Vitorino told the conference he hoped a draft European convention on
crimes in cyberspace would be completed by the end of this year and
said the Commission would also propose an initiative against child
pornography on the Internet and discuss similar moves against hate
promoted on the Web.

Robert Cailliau, the co-inventor of the World Wide Web, repeated calls
for all Internet users to be licensed.

"I am opposed to censorship by the industry itself, but sites and
authors should be registered,'' said Cailliau, who designed the Web
with Briton Tim Berners-Lee in 1990.

"The legal framework must be global,'' he added.

Ulrich Sieber, professor of information law at Munich University,
agreed for the need for a global approach, but noted it could be
difficult given the strength of the clause in the U.S. constitution
protecting free speech.

"The Internet is a global medium so we need global strategies,''
Sieber said.

"Most of the countries in Europe have gone further than the United
States. I respect the U.S. constitution, but you would think they
could do more to try and find common minimum standards,'' he said.

On Tuesday Germany's Daeubler-Gmelin is due to propose a declaration
suggesting an international minimum standard for the legal treatment
of racial hatred and xenophobia in cyberspace as well as a draft code
of conduct for the Internet community.

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