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Experts Gather in Israel for Conference on Internet Hate

Posted: November 14, 2007

Dozens of experts from Israel and the United States discussed ways to confront anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia on the Internet at a conference in Herzliya organized by ADL's Israel Office.

The one-day conference, Hate on the Internet-Poisoning the Web, brought together representatives from government, law enforcement, high-tech community, academics, Internet lawyers and activists, media and community leaders on November 12.

"There is a virtual Kristallnacht occurring online," said Christopher Wolf, Partner, Proskauer, Rose LLP and Chair of ADL's Internet Task Force, referring to the wave of pogroms orchestrated against German Jews on November 9, 1938.

"In the 1930s, the pieces of shattered glass were evidence of all the hate that existed. The hate online now may not be as visible to passersby, but it has the same violent potential."

"Young people don't have analytical skills to filter out hate sites. We need to educate them of the ways to process what they see on line," added Mr. Wolf, who also serves as Chairman of the International Network Against Cyber-Hate (INACH). 

He said that the Internet industry needs to do more to keep hate off line.  "If Internet service providers work as hard as they do to keep smut off the Internet, then they can also keep hate of the Internet," said Mr. Wolf.

Brian Marcus, ADL Director of Internet Monitoring, brought examples of hate, particularly anti-Semitism, that he said are readily available on the World Wide Web to anyone with a computer and Internet access.

"Hate on the Internet is immediate, far-reaching, long-lasting and constant. The Internet is everywhere," Mr. Marcus said.

Marcus added that technology is often one step ahead of laws and rules aimed at keeping hate speech off of sites.

"You may be able to prohibit certain sites, but then they reappear with changed names and addresses. Education is the key. We want industry to be more involved in upholding their own rules, and terms of service," Mr. Marcus said.

Meir Brand, Country Director for Google Israel, said that his company's search-engine policy was to provide an "honest reflection" of what is on the Internet: "The great, the good, the bad, and the ugly."

"Taking something out of Google search results does not remove that content from the Web," Mr. Brand said. "Like many of our users, I find the content on (some) sites extremely offensive. But, like the Anti-Defamation League, I also believe in fighting misinformation with good information, rather than by deleting what I don't agree with."

Mr. Brand added that that it was for governments, not Google, to decide what may or may not appear on the Web.

Phyllis Gerably, Managing Director of ADL's Israel Office, said the conference served as an important meeting ground for academics and the high-tech community.

"It is vital for us to make the connection to raise awareness and find practical solutions to combat hate on the Internet," she said.

The conference was co-sponsored with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Public Affairs.

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ADL Internet Main Page

The Web Fuels Hate Speech
(op-ed, International Herald Tribune, 11/15/07)

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ADL Conference Explores 'Cyberhate' (Jerusalem Post)

Google Israel Head Rejects Censor Role
(The AP)

Children at Risk Online: Problems and Solutions (11/07/07)


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