Far right groups target the Internet

Andrew Brown
Monday 06 May 1996 23:02

Increasingly sophisticated far right groups based in America are using the Internet to propagate their views, according to a study by the Institute of Jewish Policy Research.

"The far right of the 1990s is not a group in black shirts," said Michael Whine, of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. "Now it is a national anarchic movement: a totally new concept which has as its aim the destruction of modern society by the destruction of its vulnerable parts."

The global and decentralised nature of the Internet makes it ideal for the cheap dissemination of unpopular opinions. Neo-nazis and holocaust revisionists have been active on the medium for almost as long as it has existed. What is new is the use of the WorldWide Web, the most fun and fashionable part of the net, to link people into a white supremacist underground. The web allows moving pictures and sound tracks to be accessed by anyone with a modem. This means that it can be used to sell items such as books and records.

David Capitanchik, of Aberdeen University, who conducted the IJPR study, said these sites are merchanidising racism. "My concern is not for consenting adults in private," he said. "I am concerned about what happens when the Internet goes into schools and other institutions. There is a moral and possibly a legal obligation that what schools allow into their libraries via the Internet should be judged by the same standards as what they buy to put into their libraries."

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