Germany plots cyberattacks on neo-Nazi sites

German Interior minister Otto Schily is contemplating the use of spam in his battle against neo-Nazi Web sites, a government official confirmed Tuesday.

"We want to fight the neo-Nazi Web sites, but are not thinking about hacking," said Interior ministry spokesman Dirk Inger.

The online edition of German Der Spiegel has reported that Nazi sites could face government-ordered DoS (Denial of Service) attacks. By flooding the Web server with information requests the extremist site would be paralyzed. Early last year Web giants like eBay Inc. and Yahoo Inc. were taken down in DoS attacks staged by a young hacker.

If nothing else works, Nazi sites can be taken down with spam or DoS attacks, Schily said according to Der Spiegel.

However, spokesman Inger downplayed the article.

"Schily has mentioned the use of spam, not DoS attacks," said Inger, adding that the definition of spam would be bombing the site-owners with e-mail messages. This can be highly irritating and kill e-mail communication, but won't shut down the Web site.

Inger noted that the cross-border action in cyberspace is a "very complicated topic" and that the German government recognizes the limits of the law.

Besides online action, the government is looking at the possibilities of bringing civil actions in U.S. courts against those who create neo-Nazi sites targeted at Germany. As of yet, no cases have been filed and no online action has been taken, Inger said.

Publications deemed to incite racial hate, as well as Nazi insignia and slogans, are banned in Germany. Extreme right-wing propagandists have found a safe haven in the U.S., where they are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Most neo-Nazi Web sites are hosted in the U.S., Inger said.

The German government is hot on the tails of online neo-Nazi publications. In December Germany's highest court on civil affairs ruled that the country's laws against Nazi propaganda can be applied to Web sites located outside of Germany. Earlier last year a German state-level official asked four U.S. Internet service providers (ISPs) and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for help in the battle against extremist sites.

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