Germany: still nein to Nazi sites

Still a touchy subject

An administrative court in Germany has upheld a ban on access to Nazi content targeted at German ISPs based in the state of North Rhine Westphalia. The court ruled that the cross-border character of the web "cannot undermine powers vested to the Federal states".

According to ComputerWeekly, an unidentified ISP had sought to reverse an order issued by the Düsseldorf district authority preventing Germany-based ISPs from granting access to foreign servers hosting neo-Nazi material.

In 2001, North Rhine Westphalia issued a controversial ban on websites with neo-Nazi information, with 76 ISPs in the state affected. The ISPs were ordered not to allow users access to such sites, no matter where the servers are located. Some providers appealed to a higher state court and threatened to leave North Rhine Westphalia for other German states that don't impose such restrictions.

German law makes spreading Nazi ideology on the web a crime. ISPs can be prosecuted for hosting illegal content if they do so knowingly. However, only North Rhine Westphalia has adopted the blocking order. After the 2002 ruling, many German Nazi sites moved their material to US-hosted servers. ®

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