Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2001

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February 19, 2001

German Jews threaten suit over Internet hate sites


Traditional enemies of free speechGermany's Central Council for Jews (right, with Chancellor Schroeder) said Monday it was preparing to take legal action against Internet service providers that host neo-Nazi and far-right websites.

Council vice president Michel Friedman said the Council was consulting lawyers and would file suit against Internet providers giving access to websites carrying anti-Semitic or racist content banned under German law.

Friedman said the German government was acting too slowly in applying strict national laws that in theory ban any material seen to glorify Nazis or the deeds of the Third Reich. "We're looking at all [Internet] providers in Germany that provide hate information on the spot," Friedman said. "The point is to motivate the government," he added.

The Council estimates that more than 800 such portals are already in existence on the world-wide web. Friedman said Germany's Jewish community wanted courts to take a tougher line against hate sites and pointed to a recent French ruling against Internet provider Yahoo, which was ordered to block surfers in France from auctions where Nazi memorabilia are sold.

Toben at Auschwitz The Federal Supreme Court has ordered the retrial of an Australian for denying on the Internet that the Holocaust had happened. The man, Frederick Toeben, (left) had previously been acquitted of spreading the so-called "Auschwitz Lie" on the basis that his website was run on computers outside German jurisdiction.

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