Combating Racism on Internet

By EDRi · February 2, 2006

A High Level Seminar on Racism and the Internet – the 4th Session of the
Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the
Durban Declaration and Programme of Action took place in Geneva, during
16-17 January 2006.

Dr. Yaman Akdeniz, director and founder of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties
prepared a background report for the seminar with the title “Stocktaking on
efforts to combat racism on the Internet”.

The report makes an attempt to evaluate the possibilities and challenges an
Internet user faces in propagating and countering material with a racist
content. It tries to provide an overview of the issues under debate,
focusing on self-regulation and co-regulation initiatives to combat racism
on the Internet.

The report finds that the States have yet to reach a political agreement on
how to prevent the use of Internet for racist purposes and on how to promote
its use to combat racism. It also finds the efforts in fighting racism are
duplicated at the international level, fact which results in delaying the
finalisation of policies to address the problems and therefore the
implementation of these policies at the national level.

In one of the presentations at the seminar, Ms. Meryem Marzouki, President
IRIS (Imaginons un réseau Internet solidaire), expressed her concern
regarding the Internet self-regulation and co-regulation means. In her
opinion, such ways may result in possible violations of a large range of
substantive human rights and freedoms. “Moreover, these newly introduced
deliberative and legal procedures are challenging constitutive elements of
the rule of law and of democracy.” This trend in the control of illegal
content, including racist content weakens the role of the judiciary power,
while extending the prerogatives of private parties, mainly that of Internet
service providers.

In her opinion, the authors of the racist content on the Internet may be
punished by normal legal process in a country where such legislation exists
and ISPs should help enforcing a court decision of content removal, but
should not take the decision of removing content.

The presentation included a few recommendations on the role of ISPs in the
fight against racism on the Internet in situations when there is or not
specific legislation in force.

Stocktaking on efforts to combat racism on the Internet (16.01.2006)

Combating Racism on the Internet while Upholding International Human Rights
Standards (20.01.2006)