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 Posted Wednesday, April 7, 1999
The Traditional Enemies of Free Speech are still Trying to Suffocate the Internet:-

Boston, Massachusetts, March 25, 1999

Filter blocks hate-promoting Web sites

 By Matthew Falconer


O DEAL with a proliferation of hate sites on the Internet, the Anti-Defamation League has developed a "Hate Filter" that allows parents and others to block out hate sites.

"Hate Filter is designed as a gatekeeper ... to stop Web sites that promote hate from coming into the home," said David Hoffman, who runs the ADL's Web site.

The organization sponsored a panel discussion yesterday on dealing with hate Web sites and e-mail that is filled with racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism.

The discussion addressed the difficult question: How to combat the rising use of the Internet to spread messages of hate without violating the right to free speech.

The number of Web sites set up by hatemongers is growing and so is the use of e-mail to disseminate messages of hate, according to the ADL.

Rise in such addresses spurs Anti-Defamation League effort

A report earlier this month by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a research organization based in Los Angeles, said the number of hate sites on the World Wide Web has more than doubled from about 600 in 1997 to more than 1,500 today.

Lauren H. Levin, a lawyer with ADL, said yesterday that the 15 e-mail hate incidents reported to the organization in Massachusetts last year, at a time when all anti-Semitic incidents rose 8 percent, represented "the tip of the iceberg."

And Robert Cole of the state attorney general's office called the proliferation of hate on the Internet "a new, pernicious reality." He said his office is committed to prosecuting Internet hate crimes.

Hate Filter is one way of trying to keep out offensive Web sites but it has the same sort of quirks that other filtering programs have.

For example, anyone with the program might encounter problems doing research on the Nazi Party because some legitimate sites on the subject might be filtered out.

Another way to stop hate on the Internet without violating free speech, panelists said, is for Internet service providers to strictly enforce their terms of service agreements.

"What we're encouraging is for these ISPs to be more aggressive in enforcing their terms of service," Levin said. "And legislators need to step up to the plate and enact the laws that balance free speech with the fight against hate on the Internet."

Panelist Jeffrey Snider, a lawyer for the Waltham-based Internet company Lycos, said: "We readily and eagerly cooperate with authorities" when a customer's violation of the rules warrants law enforcement to become involved.

"That's part of our privacy policy," Snider said.

Jonathan Zittrain, executive director and cofounder of the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society at Harvard University, offered suggestions for dealing with hate-filled e-mail.

He said e-mail could be made less anonymous to increase the possibility of detecting the sender of a hate message and that e-mail-ID programs, similar to Caller ID systems, could be developed to better inform computer users where a message is coming from before it is opened.

But whatever action companies and legislators take, "there aren't going to be any easy solutions," Zittrain said.

We thank our colleagues in Massachusetts for bringing the above news item to our notice
Our opinion
[AR]It is precisely the "legitimate sites" doing research on the Nazi Party that the ADL is hoping to filter out; it does not mind the bogus historical sites, like those run by Nizkor, the Holocaust organisations, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center (which has only just published another faked photograph on its own site).
The above news item is reproduced without editing other than typographical
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