OSCE Meeting on the Relationship between Racist, Xenophobic
and Anti-Semitic Propaganda on the Internet and Hate Crimes, Paris, 16 – 17
‘ONLINE PROPAGANDA AND THE COMMISSION OF HATE CRIME’
I work primarily for the Community Security
Trust, which provides defence and security services for the Jewish community
in the UK. Part of our research during the past fifteen years has been on
how antisemitic extremist groups, neo-nazi, Islamist radicals, and others,
promote hatred of, and plan offensive activity against the Jewish community.
Increasingly we are able to ascertain what
these extremists are planning by accessing the Internet.
We accept that the development of cyberspace
has facilitated the growth of new forms of hate groups and that it allows
cheap accessible communication which avoids legal restrictions and which is
capable of being encrypted. We know that there has been an explosion of
websites, that they promote hatred, and that there is an alarming increase
in religious and racial tension, including violence, directed at many
minorities, but particularly the Jewish communities. What we must now do is
begin to examine the relationship between such sites and violence on the
streets. We should also analyse the development of the command and control
mechanisms that cyberspace allows.
The websites are, in effect, a showcase of
wares; they promote the hate groups’ ideologies and allow them to advertise
themselves. These groups also now increasingly use cyberspace to organise
themselves and their activities. I would suggest that the next important
growth is not in the use of websites as such but rather in the internal and
restricted access sites. And it is the racist, xenophobic groups which use
them the most. That is the neonazis and the white supremacists. Radical
Islamists inciting religious hatred are also major users.
Governments have recognised that such sites may
breach criminal codes and some prosecutions both of the owners of hate sites
and the senders of hate mail have taken place, notably in France, Germany,
Norway, Switzerland, Britain and Australia.
The law has been catching up with the promoters
of hate online as a result of political pressures: cyberspace no longer
operates in the lawless vacuum, which its early proponents intended, and
which the hate groups above all others have campaigned for but the focus of
the few prosecutions has been on the websites only. The commonly held view
of the neo-nazi groups is that they are relatively unsophisticated mindless
thugs. The reality is that they are the generation that has grown up in a
digitised world and see the greater potential for cyberspace than did their
predecessors. They communicate in cyberspace ever more frequently, and
They use the Internet for planning action, such
as the organisation of demonstrations, sometimes violent; for fundraising;
for the recruitment and introduction of new members. The email contact lists
and the Internet relay chatrooms allow the posting of messages and a proper
exchange of information within selected groups. Even allowing for the
possibilities of exaggeration by some posters and the fact that some use
anonymiser services, or otherwise hide their identities, it is still
possible to see that these forums are increasingly used for the organisation
The riots in northern English cities in 2002
were in part organised online by the neo Nazi British National Party and
National Front. So were the same groups’ violent demonstrations outside the
North London Mosque in Finsbury Park over the past eighteen months.
Redwatch in Britain and the Anti Antifa sites
in Germany publish hit lists for their members of prominent anti-fascist
campaigners and journalists, and assaults on them take place as a
In all these examples it is possible to trace
the link between the postings and the ensuing violence.
At an international level, the Holocaust Denial
conferences held in Italy in 2001 and 2002 were organised almost completely
online, and the monitoring of the sites, among other means, allowed the
Italian authorities, when alerted, to take action against them. The
organisers of a new planned international network of white supremacist
groups that signed the New Orleans Protocol on 29 May 2004 stressed in their
declaration that: “The Internet is our communication salvation in the face
of increasing minority control of mainline means of communication as well as
increased state censorship". Observation of chatroom exchanges show clearly
how ideology is developed and spread. The British National Party’s change in
focus from that of an openly neo-Nazi street-based group to its
reincarnation as an anti-immigrant political campaigning force has been
carried out considerably online. And the White Nationalist Party, a north of
England-based breakaway from the National Front, has developed its ideology
Fundraising for many groups, in Britain and the
USA, now takes place online. In a recent posting the activities organiser of
the British National Front thanked supporters for funding their election
campaign in which they raised the bulk of their funds online.
Government agencies and NGOs have now become
adept at monitoring hate sites. Regular reports which describe the contents
are published both in hard copy and online. The ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal
Centre reports are among the foremost. A US Justice Department publication
investigating Hate Crime on the Internet examines cases of hate-mail sent
What is now required is a series of further
studies nationally and internationally on the use of closed sites.
Investigations should be aimed at gaining intelligence on planned activities
by extremists in order to frustrate their plans. It should be used for the
wider intelligence purpose of establishing the operational links that exist
between these groups. And It should be used for criminal prosecutions where
the link between the message and the act of violence is provable. There may
be jurisdictional and investigative problems in this process but they are
not insurmountable. This becomes a more urgent and pressing requirement as
Internet usage grows.
The OSCE questionnaire sent to member states at
the end of March sought responses to a wide range of important questions.
Unfortunately there was insufficient time between then and now for more than
23 states and the EC to respond. It is to be hoped that the other 32 will do
so at the earliest opportunity, and that the OSCE will publish their replies
Responses received so far indicate a tremendous
growth in Internet usage, and particularly among young people. While most
responding states have legislation that forbids incitement or discrimination
few report the establishment of specialised law enforcement units, or indeed
even an awareness that cyberspace provides the most dynamic and cheapest
medium by which to incite, organise and fund hatred.
Just a few however recognise the problem. Let
me quote from two of the responses.
The Dutch reply states that:
‘ By and large anti-Semitism for example,
has shifted from In Real Life publications to the Internet’.
The Russian Federation states:
‘In particular, the Internet is being used by
terrorist organisations for propaganda of terrorist ideas, separatism and
religious extremism, as well as involving people in
the activities of such organisations and providing financing.’
In summary therefore I would urge member states
to recognise that hatred is increasingly organised on line, as well as being
showcased on line.
OSCE Meeting on Racist, Xenophobic and Anti-Semitic Propaganda
on the Internet
between freedom of speech and control of incitement
I think it became clear, that
we cannot perceive the internet primarily as a threat, but much more should use
the chance it offers to promote understanding and dialogue in a pluralistic and
from Paris RA)
Public and Private Partnership:
Against Racism, Xenophobia and anti-Semitism on the Internet
An Introduction by Miklós Haraszti, OSCE-Representative on
Freedom of the Media...
Some arguments by Ms. Karin Spaink:
Why discriminatory speech on the internet
cannot – and should not – be banned
OSCE / FOM Objections pertaining to constitutional rights and
Technical and political considerations:
Is prohibiting hate-speech
feasible - or desirable?
At the OSCE Paris conference a number of countries / NGOs
appealed to regulate the internet in order to stop hate speech. However, and
contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as 'the internet'...
..."Let the bright light of truth expose
their bigotry, so their lies can be unmasked"...
by Stephan M. Minikes, Ambassador, U.S. Mission...
Cyberspace is a reflection of
If we put enough effort in education that promotes respect for differences,
peaceful co-existence and tolerance, the Internet will also become hate-free...
One of the most acute dilemmas facing us at the
outset of the Twenty-First Century:
proliferation of hate material on the internet
Mass communication is not anymore on its infancy. With the
Internet, we are dealing with a phenomenon unparalleled in all of History.
Instant communication is possible, to all points on the globe, at minimum
CONCLUSIONS BY THE CHAIR
OF THE OSCE MEETING
16./17. Juni - OSZE-Konferenz in Paris:
Fremdenhass und Antisemitismus im Internet
Am kommenden Mittwoch und Donnerstag findet in Paris
eine OSZE-Konferenz statt, die die Zusammenhänge zwischen rassistischer,
fremdenfeindlicher und antisemitischer Propaganda im Internet und Hassdelikten
zum Thema hat...
Antisemitische Propaganda im Internet:
Hass ist das Ende der Welt
Methoden zur Rechtsdurchsetzung und Erfahrungen mit
der strafrechtlichen Verfolgung antisemitischer u./o. rechtsextremistischer
Ein Motivvorrat, der in jeder Epoche wieder
aktualisiert werden kann:
Zum Begriff des Antisemitismus
Die Wortbildung basiert auf
sprachwissenschaftlichen und völkerkundlichen Unterscheidungen des ausgehenden
18. Jahrhunderts, in denen mit dem Begriff des Semitismus der "Geist" der
semitischen Völker im Unterschied zu dem der Indogermanen erfasst und abgewertet
(English) OSCE Conference Berlin- Session 4 / David Gall]