Feb. 9, 2000
Interview with CBC Radio @ 7:45 AM
I – CBC Interviewer B- Bernard S- Sol Littman C- Crown Counsel [my comments]
I - The investigation into alleged hate crimes on the Internet has come to an end. Two years ago B.C.’s attorney general ordered an investigation into allegations that an Oliver Internet provider was spreading hate literature. The allegations came from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which quickly dubbed Oliver the Hate Crime Capital of Canada. This week the investigation ended, police say no charges will be laid against Bernard Klatt or his company Fairview Technologies, and here's what Mr. Klatt had to say to our reporter Kate McFarland yesterday.
B- That really doesn't come as a surprise as to anyone who is familiar with the details of case because there is no basis in law or in fact for any.. even contemplation of any charges in that area.
I – Are you hosting the same sites that you had on when this whole brouhaha blew up?
B- No the internet was a service that we offered for 3 years and that was just a small part of our business, and that was sold off in early ‘98, yes I think it was ’98 when that part of the business was sold off, and we don't recommend people to host web pages in Canada due to Canada's restrictive legislation and the environment that suppresses free speech in Canada.
I - That was Bernard Klatt owner of Fairview Technologies. Sol Littman is the former Canadian director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and I reached him earlier this morning. I asked him what he thought of Mr. Klatt’s comments.
S – Good morning. I - Hi how are you? S - I'm just fine.
I - What do you think about what you just heard from Mr. Klatt?
S - Well I don't know what to make of it. Mr. Klatt’s knowledge of law and free speech are rather dim. Canada doesn't suffer from any free speech constraints and the United States at the present time is also working on the whole question an excess of freedom on the Internet. There's an article in today's paper about the state of Arizona, attempting to develop the tools that would have made it possible to convict Mr. Klatt under our anti-hate laws, namely the preservation of material that was on the site. So that, I don't think Mr. Klatt is a prophet is this field.
I - What is your reaction to the fact that the Crown has decided not to pursue charges?
S - Well I wouldn't suggest that Mr. Jub.. Mr. Klatt be too jubilant about this or that any of the colleagues that think the same way he thinks, get jubilant. Its apparently just a temporary bump in the road, would the, the point very simply is that Mr. Klatt removed most of the offensive material from his site before the Crown ever had a chance to really record it and take note of it. So that the evidence in a sense had disappeared into the ether. However, they are developing new tools that will require sites to be preserved and which will allow investigative teams to use that material on the site in court.
I - So do you see that this case as something of a learning experience?
S - Unquestionably. You know the investigative team in British Columbia, the anti-hate squad are excellent people and unfortunately they were not sufficiently trained in the use of the internet at the time when the charges were first made. So they had to rely on third parties to gather the material for them and the Crown I think quite correctly decided that this would not be a good court procedure, that the investigative team should be able to down load the material themselves rather then depend on someone else. So we will see legislation yet in the near future and I hope it improves the quality of the Internet.
I - Do you have any concerns about the way this case was handled?
S - No, I think that I ‘m committed to due process in all cases and as long as due process was followed I commend the people who were doing the work.
I - And you've mentioned that we can expect legislation soon. What else do you hold out for the future when these type of cases come up?
S - Well I think the main thing is that our police officers are now beginning to take Internet training, and they're also beginning to work with computers in greater number than they ever have before. We discovered in Toronto for example. That most police officers didn't even have access to a computer except through maybe there was one computer per department. And we began a training course for officers to use the internet as an investigative tool and I think weave trained about half of the police forces of southern Ontario by now. [what business is it of the SWC to 'train' police?] What were going to see is a lot more sophistication in the part of law enforcers in the Internet that will, you know, outrace the sophistication gathered by the people who use the Internet for nefarious purposes.
I - Mr. Littman thank you very much.
S - Your welcome. I - Bye now. S - bye bye.
I - Sol Littman is the former Canadian director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
Myron Claridge is the Crown Counsel with the Criminal Justice branch. He works with the hate crime team and was involved in the decision in not to pursue charges and he joins me on the line now. Good Morning.
C - Good Morning.
I - What was behind the decision in not to pursue those charges?
C - There just was not sufficient evidence by the time we got going and got our resources organized to be able to find evidence on the FTC site directly where we could link the information and the knowledge of the owner and the company itself. And we did find eventually hate material, which we would and could legally be described as hate propaganda but they were on secondary and tertiary links to that site. So there was no way we could attach knowledge or possession directly to Fairview.
I - So what was the problem, was it a problem of timing?
C - It was a problem that what information had been there, or we had been advised it was there, by the time we had the resources available and unfortunately there was an intermediary press conference which publicized the case and what we had been told was information that had been on the site had disappeared, so we were left with what we had at the time, and try to reconstruct as best we could with the technological people that we did bring in what had been there and we were unable to do that.
I - Now you said that you did find some hate literature on the site but you couldn't proceed on that could you just explain that to me again.
C - Well, as with any website there are links to outside sites and the sites that were linked from FTC went to secondary and tertiary links outside the country in fact. Which it had what we would describe as hate propaganda which the case, the court in Keegstra would have found to be hate propaganda and we just couldn't attach that to FTC or the knowledge of FTC or Mr. Klatt. So we just didn't have the evidence, the basic evidence much less the knowledge and the intent we would have had to prove. [and it took 'em two years to figure that out?]
I - There is a lot of what people would term hate literature on the Internet. What does this case do about future investigations into that type of literature?
C - What it has done is been a learning process I think for not only police enforcement and Crown across the country but hopefully parliament, in that we have identified gaps or potential gaps in the criminal code. Most of the hate propaganda legislation in the code is dated, is of paper age legislation, it was dated from the 70’s and it doesn't reflect the computer age. There are some sections that have been updated but they don't refer to hate propaganda, so BC as result of that case through the A.G. the attorney general and the hate crime team itself has made suggestions, recommendations in two papers to the federal provincial territorial group which works on amendments to the criminal code in Ottawa and BC has two representatives on those committees and we have channeled our recommendations to the federal government and hopefully we will see some changes in the near future.
I - The near future, do you, anything more specific than that?
C - Well I think Mr. Littman raised the issue of logs. Internet service providers have the logs which they keep in the daily course of business to, basically captures everything coming in through their service computers and we and the police have recommended, police across Canada, have recommended that those logs be kept for a long period of time. For big corporations, big ISP’s that's not a problem but for smaller ones it can be a cost and they're rather unwilling to do that. So were trying to get together with the ISP’s big or small and get a set time period so those logs can be kept. So the police can go back and find out 2 months ago that there was material either child pornography or hate propaganda that was transmitted from one computer to another.
I - Mr. Claridge, thanks very much.
C – Your welcome.
I - Myron Claridge is Crown lawyer with the provinces Criminal Justice
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Following the 8 AM news. Feb. 9, 2000
...link it to FTC . I – Claridge says in Klatt’s case it was not possible to establish ownership of the hate crime material. He says the likely hood of conviction was slim. Bernard Klatt says he already knew that. B - That really doesn't come as a surprisee to anybody that's familiar with details of the case because there's no basis in law or in fact or even any contemplation of any charges in that area. I - Claridge warns Internet providers to be self-regulating and watch what they carry on their service. He says if they don't laws will be brought in sooner rather then later to deal with new technologies like the Internet. Kate McFarland, CBC News Kelowna.
Klatt's website clean
Time to put the issue to bed, says mayor