A German state-level official is challenging U.S. ISPs (Internet service providers) to help combat neo-Nazi propaganda on the Internet.
Düsseldorf District Government President Jürgen Büssow has sent an open letter to four ISPs and to U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman William Kennard, asking them to block neo-Nazi Web sites on their servers.
The action comes as Büssow is warning German ISPs that they face fines of up to 500,000 marks (US$231,000) for hosting neo-Nazi sites. [See "German Official:
ISPs Liable for Hate Sites," August 28]. As authorities have turned up the heat on German neo-Nazis, many have moved their Web sites to U.S. servers.
"If a content provider is based in the United States, I can't get at them," Büssow said in an interview Monday. "But I don't think any Internet provider wants to be known in Germany for spreading Nazi propaganda; that would hurt their business."
Büssow said the U.S.-based ISPs DreamHaven Internet Services LLC, Man and Machine Ltd., Webprovider Inc., and National Web Hosting are responsible for the sites http://www.thulenet.com, http://www.doitschland.tsx.org, http://www.tune88.com and http://www.zundelsite.org, respectively. The first three carry anti-Semitic and racist content in German. The fourth is an English-language site dedicated to Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel, with a German-language subsection. He sent the open letter to those four ISPs.
A search of a "whois" database shows at least two of the sites in question are registered to fictitious addresses in Berlin. "Thulenet" is registered to "Janus-Kommunikation," named for the two-faced god of Greek mythology. No such company is listed in the German telephone directory.
A reporter could reach only one of the listed ISPs, Webprovider, by telephone.
Attorney Chris Dalrymple of Interlian Inc., the parent company of Webprovider said, "I'm not aware of the letter, and we don't comment on stuff like that."
DreamHaven's home page carries a disclaimer that the company "assumes no responsibility for any content provided by its users."
A spokesman for the FCC did not immediately return phone calls.
Büssow said that, despite the broad interpretation of freedom of speech in the U.S., he feels confident that there is a legal basis in U.S. law for stopping hate speech. He pointed to Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which the U.S. is a signatory, guaranteeing protection against discrimination and incitement to discrimination.
"I think there's a limit to freedom of speech when it comes to appeals for violence against third parties," he said.
DreamHaven Internet Services, in Everett, Washington, can be reached at http://www.dreamhaven.net/.
Man and Machine Ltd., in Davie, Florida, can be reached at http://www.technocraft.com/mml/.
Webprovider Inc., in Purchase, New York, can be reached at +1-914-640-9000 orhttp://www.webprovider.com/. National Web Hosting, in Buffalo, New York, can be reached at http://alpha.nationalwebhosting.com/.