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Hate Speech on the Internet

This part of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) will deal with the availability of hate related materials on the Internet. This will include a discussion of the UK, EU, US and Canadian laws and will provide links to related web sites and materials available on the Internet. BUT note that these pages are out-of-date and we did not have a chance to update them so far.

Hatewatch is simply the best web site dealing with the availability of hate speech on the Internet and monitors the on-line activities all around the world.

See also:

Simon Wiesenthal Center - which is an international centre for Holocaust remembrance and the defense of human rights and the Jewish people. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the Center's mandate is a unique combination of social action, public outreach, scholarship, education and media projects as it imparts the lessons of the Holocaust and develops educational strategies for teaching tolerance.

See their Cyberwatch Hotline to report hatred on the Internet and read their Perspective on Hate on the Internet. Read also:

HATE SPEECH SYMPOSIUM: Protecting rights, Protecting Hate? Comparative American, Canadian, and Israeli Approaches (1995).

UN Seminar on Hate Speech

Within the framework of the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination, in pursuance of General Assembly resolution 51/81, the High Commissioner for Human Rights organised a seminar on "The role of Internet with regard to the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination". The purpose of the Seminar which took place in Geneva from 10 to 14 November 1997 and brought together experts on the subject matter, representatives of governments, Internet Service Providers, and representatives of non-governmental organisations, was to find ways and means to ensure a responsible use of the Internet in the light of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Members of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC) participating in United Nations seminar, called on governments and UN Conference members not to restrict speech on the Internet and to fight racist speech with more speech, GILC Co-Founder and ACLU Associate Director, Barry Steinhardt stated that:

"GILC members thought it was essential that we be present as a voice for Internet users and freedom at the first meeting convened by a Committee to consider the regulation of speech on the Internet. We brought a strong message that the Internet should remain a free speech zone and that the best response to bad speech is more speech."

The following is the statement submitted by GILC to the Seminar on the Role of Internet With Regard to the Provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

(1) GILC members deplore racist and hateful speech, but when encountering racist or hateful speech, the best remedy to be applied is generally more speech, not enforced silence.

(2) Liberty’s fundamental principle is that governments should be prohibited from prohibiting the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.

(3) While the application of existing law to the Internet is still in its infancy, the well-established free speech principles should apply with even greater force to networked speech. The Internet gives it users easy access to public discourse. It affords human rights activists and other opponents of racism with an inexpensive and effective method for responding to racist speech.

Signing Members of GILC

Arge Daten (Austria)
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Association des Utilisateurs (AUI-France)
Centre for Applied Legal Studies (South Africa)
Center for Democracy and Technology (USA)
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR)
Cyber-Rights &Cyber Liberties (UK)
Derechos Human Rights (International)
Digital Citizens Foundation Netherlands
Electronic Frontiers Australia
Electronic Frontier Foundation (USA)
Electronic Privacy Information Center (USA)
Fronteras Electronicas Espana (FrEE)(Spain)
Net Action (USA)
Peacefire (USA)
quitessenz e-zine (Austria)

All the information you need is provided at:

The UN department of Public information has issued a press release with the conclusions of the seminar.

DPI-Releases Hr/97/76, 17 November 1997, Human rights seminar condemns promotion of racism on the internet

It’s available at:

Racism, Hate Crimes and the Law: Proceedings of a Symposium held in Vancouver, British Columbia November 27th-29th, 1992

Hate Crimes Prevention Center, and its report entitled Hate Crimes in America (not specifically Internet related)

Mistrial in Internet hate message case

November 21, 1997, - A mistrial was declared in the federal trial of a man accused of sending threatening electronic mail messages via the Internet to Asian students at a southern California university. U.S. District Court Judge Alicemarie Stotler took the action in Santa Ana, south of Los Angeles, after the jury said it was deadlocked in the trial of Richard Machado. It was not immediately known if he would be re-tried. Machado, 19, a naturalized U.S. citizen from El Salvador, was charged with 10 counts of violating a federal law that makes it a crime to use race, ethnicity or nationality to interfere with a federally-protected activity -- in this case, attending school. It was the first such case brought under the federal hate crimes legislation. He was alleged to have sent threatening e-mail messages last year to Asian students at the University of California, Irvine. The former student allegedly blamed Asians for campus crime and threatened to "hunt down and kill" them. During the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mavis Lee said Machado threatened to kill 59 people "solely because of their race, the color of their skin and their nationality." She called his e-mail message "hateful, repugnant, degrading and terrifying." Machado's court-appointed defender contended he had been bored and sent the message to provoke a response, but had no intention of carrying out his threat.

Anti-Defamation League Says Hate Is Polluting The Internet
(10/21/97; 4:00 p.m. EDT) By David Braun, TechWeb
TechWeb News,

The Anti-Defamation League said it was working with America Online to develop ways for users to filter "hate" sites on the Web. "The technology that enables millions of Americans to be interconnected through the Internet and the World Wide Web has proven to be a boon for racists, anti-Semites, anti-government extremists, and other hatemongers," according to a statement from the Anti-Defamation League.

New York-based ADL fights anti-Semitism through programs and services that aim to counteract hatred, prejudice, and bigotry. In a report entitled "High-Tech Hate: Extremist Use of the Internet," ADL documents the growth of hate and extremism on the Web and how groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, anti-government militias, white supremacists, and Holocaust deniers go online to recruit and propagandize, especially targeting youth. "To counter the propaganda and provide users with options to challenge the hatemongers, ADL is working with America Online and other technology and legal experts to explore ways to help Internet users, especially parents and educators," ADL said.

"Hate is polluting the Internet," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director. "Racists, anti-Semites, and extremists now spew their hate easily, cheaply, and often deceptively, potentially reaching numbers of individuals they could have only dreamed about before the telecommunications revolution. Through Websites and E-mail, they intrude into our home, workplace, school, and university as never before." Foxman said ADL and AOL were working to create an atmosphere of responsibility online, "to set standards within the framework of the First Amendment that will give assurances to parents, educators, and communities that there is no tolerance for hate online."

ADL was developing a "filter" software product that would act as a "gatekeeper" between the user and the Internet, Foxman said. The report is the third in a series of ADL studies on hate in cyberspace. Previous reports were "The Web of Hate: Extremists Exploit the Internet" (February 1996) and "Hate Group Recruitment on the Internet" (November 1995).

BBC News, Warning over Internet 'hate sites', November 10, 1997