Speech delivered by Brian Marcus
Director of Internet Monitoring
To the Implementation Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Human Dimension Implementation Meeting
Warsaw, Poland, October 9, 2006
The International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH) was founded in 2002 as a network of online complaints bureaus who are actively monitoring cyber hate, tackling racist content and educating users. In the subsequent years, INACH has become a cross-national network with nodes from 14 OSCE participating states.
The members of the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH) represent a diverse group of non-government organizations that have different levels of interaction with, and assistance by, their respective governments. A number of INACH members function with limited or no government assistance and others receive direct funding from their governments. However, the work of INACH members includes the discovery and/or investigations on reports of hate materials online that may constitute illegal action in their country, so almost all members find themselves sharing information with law enforcement.
Varying laws about hate speech (particularly in Europe where the materials discovered may constitute a crime) lead to very different actions and levels of sharing information with law enforcement and prosecutors. European members of INACH have worked with law enforcement to ensure the laws of their country regarding hate materials are enforced, and that providers who host materials are put on notice when they are hosting hate sites. Efforts are also made to identify those who create, post or disseminate hate materials in order to prosecute them under the respective laws of their country.
The context in the United States is different than the European model, as the majority of hate material is not illegal, because it is speech that is protected by the freedom of speech guaranteed under the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Because of this, the information that is shared with law enforcement is generally limited to "actionable" information – for example, information that is posted online about upcoming extremist events, or those who admit to (or show themselves) committing illegal actions, and identifying those people who have made direct calls to violence against people, places or institutions.
This presentation will examine interactions by three INACH members with law enforcement, showing that there are some differences as well as some important common aspects to these outreach efforts.
INACH member Jugendschutz.net, is the cross national bureau for the protection of minors on the Internet in Germany. The Youth Ministries of the German Federal States founded jugendschutz.net in 1997, and in 2003 was assigned to the Commission for Youth Protection in the Media (KJM) in order to achieve a consistent control of broadcast and Internet materials. Jugendschutz seeks to protect minors from harm of all types online – including hate materials. In Germany, the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV) regulates what is illegal online, and what content providers are obliged to do.
Jugendschutz.net processes reports sent to their hotline regarding violations, and investigates these complaints, as well as intensive and extensive research seeking out illegal materials online. Their efforts include objecting to offences and putting providers on notice when materials are discovered, and calling on the media supervisory body if a provider refuses to remove the materials. The KJM will rule on the content and has the power to ban content and impose fines of up to 500,000 Euros. Jugendschutz.net not only reports to regulatory bodies, but in cases of hate materials created and posted by Germans, will also report information on to the police.
Jugendschutz.net also acts as a German voice calling upon foreign providers to remove content that is considered illegal in Germany, as German authorities are not in a position to take action against foreign content providers. Jugendschutz.net calls on international partners in INACH to assist them in contacting foreign providers in order to request the removal of hate materials. In some countries this may involve legal mechanisms, and for instance, in the United States it may mean asking a provider to enforce their own Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policies.
The interactions with law enforcement by Jugendschutz.net are not limited to sharing reports and the results of their online research, but also include another important function – training. Many law enforcement officers do not have the knowledge and experience regarding online hate, so Jugendschutz.net shares information with officers. This information can include background and details on the growing "online scene", and how the online efforts of extremists can have real-world consequences. Also, most officers do not have extensive knowledge on how the Internet functions, so they need information on how to identify individuals using the Internet, and how to save electronic information. Public prosecutors and judges are also trained, as differing interpretations of German laws and how these can be enacted and enforced need to be addressed.
The trainings of German law enforcement, prosecutors and judges in workshops, and efforts to work closely with law enforcement on their cases, ensures officials know they have technical support if necessary, and that the lines of communication are open so information can be shared freely. These efforts by Jugendschutz.net are meant to make sure that the people who are in positions where they can take actions against hate speech are informed and understand their options under German law, and builds agreement on the best ways to deal with violations of the law online. In the end these efforts seek to speed up actions, and ensure consistency when dealing with online extremism.
People Against Racism (PAR)
The example of Jugendschutz.net is to show how a European member of INACH can work with authorities to ensure their countries laws are followed. Another example of a European member is Slovakian member, People Against Racism (PAR). This NGO also receives reports of hate materials online from the public through email and a telephone hotline, as well as conducting their own research and monitoring. Their active efforts include joining forums, chat rooms and email groups to monitor them for hate content.
When PAR discovers hate materials, and determine that it is either hosted on a provider in Slovakia, or the person creating and spreading the content is in-country, they share their data and information with law enforcement. PAR also contacts Czech and Slovak providers if they are hosting hate materials to draw their attention to the sites if they violate either the Terms of Service of the provider or the Slovak Penal Code.
PAR has also found that the Slovakian police have little to no experience with cyber hate, and prosecutors have been reluctant to charge violations of the law. The cases they initially reported were dismissed due to "non existing breach of law – the act does not contain features of a crime" and prosecutors asserted the speech in question (in these cases Holocaust denial – which is a criminal offence under the Slovak Penal Code) was covered by freedom of speech. Although they appealed, PAR's reports were not considered. This type of response has led to efforts by PAR to reach out to law enforcement and public prosecutors in order to create better communications and training. They now have enabled better channels of communication and information-sharing through their efforts.
In the United States, the majority of hate materials are not illegal, as they are generally covered by the freedom of speech clause in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The Anti-Defamation League has continually tracked the use of new technologies, such as the Internet, by extremist groups of all types. In January 1985, ADL released a report entitled Computerized Networks of Hate. Years before the Internet became a household word this report exposed a computerized bulletin board created both by, and for, white supremacists.
The "Aryan Nation Liberty Net" bulletin board was a forerunner of today's extremism on the Internet, and Computerized Networks of Hate detailed five ways this board served the white supremacist movement, all of which remain important to extremism of all types on the Internet today.
First, the bulletin board was designed to draw young people to the hate movement with appealing propaganda and creating a sense of empowerment and community. Once a person became an accepted member, a password would be sent that allowed greater access to 'closed portions' of the site, thus encouraging users to get more involved. Second, the network helped identify and stir up hatred against the perceived "enemies" of the extremists. Third, the bulletin board was used a means to raise funds and sell products. Fourth, the system offered the potential for circulating private (encrypted or encoded) messages amongst fellow extremists, and finally, it bypassed embargoes that nations outside of the United States placed on mailing hate literature, and allowed anyone, anywhere to access materials hosted in the US, where much of the information is protected speech.
The Computerized Networks of Hate ADL report warned that complacency about this development "would be unwise," because it represented a new field for hatred. At the time, Louis Beam, one of the creators of the racist bulletin board, boasted that "computers are now bringing their power and capabilities" to extremists. "The possibilities," Beam remarked, "have only been touched upon." (For more information on this bulletin board, see http://www.adl.org/poisoning_web/introduction.asp)
ADL efforts to monitor and track online hate have continued and expanded over the last twenty years, and with a dedicated Internet Monitoring Unit as well as investigative researchers and analysts gathering information online, the ADL is the leading US NGO regarding the online efforts of extremists of all types.
The materials and information gathered by the ADL are shared with law enforcement through published reports, email newsletters, detailed trainings dedicated to online extremism conducted across the United States and internationally, and through direct contact with agencies at all levels if information is discovered that may be "actionable."
The type of information appearing online that law enforcement in the US is generally interested in would include: information about upcoming extremist events, individuals or groups who admit to (or show themselves) committing illegal actions, and identifying those people who have made direct calls to violence against people, places or institutions. If this type of information is uncovered, it is disseminated through the ADL site – particularly the ADL Law Enforcement Agency Resource Network (http://www.adl.org/LEARN ) that receives over a million visitors per year; email information newsletters such as our Law Enforcement Update and Terrorism Update - and in some cases information is sent directly to the relevant law enforcement agencies.
The Anti-Defamation League also provide information to law enforcement on the ideologies, symbols, and even the technological advances by extremists who are active online. The ADL provides resources for law enforcement in written reports and online, for example the new online report detailing racist skinhead activity in the US at http://www.adl.org/racist_skinheads or the visual database of extremist symbols, logos and tattoos at http://www.adl.org/hate_symbols/default.asp
Similar to the experiences of European INACH members, ADL has found that many officers and law enforcement agencies do not have detailed knowledge of the online activities of extremists, and many do not have the technical backgrounds to deal with the complexities of online materials. There are a limited number of departments and agencies who have the capacity to dedicate officers to Internet-related extremist activity but these are often limited to geographic regions or specific instances/groups, and the ADL is able to provide a broad overview of the efforts by various extremist groups and individuals combined with a deep well of knowledge and experience. ADL provides detailed training for officers at all levels on how to deal with online information about extremists, and details about these trainings can be found on the ADL site at http://www.adl.org/learn/adl_law_enforcement/default.htm
The information that ADL uncovers on "actionable" information of interest to law enforcement is often through ADL's own online research and monitoring efforts, but this is also supplemented by reports sent to ADL through emails by concerned people, and sometimes through information-sharing with INACH members. This information-sharing is also reciprocated if ADL discovers information that may be of interest to INACH partners.
Overall, INACH members have had different experiences with law enforcement in their respective countries. In Germany, the Jugendschutz.net has close ties to the regulatory and enforcement bodies and works with the police and prosecutors. Their efforts have been well-received and they are able to have open channels with law enforcement. In Slovakia, People Against Racism is a newer organization with limited resources, but through their dedication and efforts, they are beginning to develop channels of communication and build trust with law enforcement that will hopefully continue to grow. The efforts of the Anti-Defamation League in the United States have long been praised by law enforcement, and ADL has a significant program through regional and the national offices to train officers at all levels regarding the use of the Internet by extremists and terrorists. These trainings are conducted at the local level with national and regional ADL staff participation, and through high-level trainings conducted with national staff in events both in the US and internationally.
The INACH network is designed as a means for groups across the world that are dealing with online hate to work together, and to share best practices and ideas – and the further strengthening of the INACH network will result in more countries being able to share in the knowledge and experience of INACH members. This sharing of information will also concentrate on outreach efforts to law enforcement officials, in order to ensure they have the tools necessary to enforce the laws of their respective countries and have information they can use regarding extremists and extremism in general. INACH members are working towards increasing their exchange of best practices and materials to guarantee they can be of the greatest use to police and prosecutors as resources and points of contact when extremists break the law.