News Release
Ministry of Attorney General

April 17,1998
98:36

ATTORNEY GENERAL APPRECIATES BC TEL's ASSISTANCE IN WEB SITE INVESTIGATION

VICTORIA -- Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh said today he appreciated the assistance offered by BC Tel in forwarding information it collected relating to Fairview Technology Centre, an Internet service provider in Oliver.

"BC Tel is acting responsibly and appropriately in confronting the complex issues of disseminating hate on the Internet," said Dosanjh. "Dealing with the distribution of hate propaganda through this new technology is a particularly difficult and troubling challenge."

Dosanjh pointed out that BC Tel's assistance demonstrates the special nature of investigating allegations of criminal conduct on the Internet.

"Nearly all the material alleged to be hate propaganda provided to us by BC Tel on this particular site is located in the United States, creating problems of jurisdiction. The legal opinion BC Tel obtained appropriately makes no comment on how to prosecute possible charges or who could be charged under the Criminal Code for this kind of material located on foreign sites. The opinion does not address the evidentiary hurdles posed by this complex issue."

On Thursday, BC Tel turned its material over to the province's hate crime team and the RCMP, who are continuing to conduct a criminal investigation begun some time ago of the Fairview site.

Dosanjh said he has raised the issue of crime on the Internet at several national and international forums, including the meeting of Canadian justice ministers in Montreal last December and the Conference of Western Attorneys General in February. Dosanjh asked his Canadian and American counterparts to develop strategies jointly for combating hate and child pornography on the Intemet.

"I received a commitment from the federal government to take the matter to the American government in Washington, D.C., and it will be on the agenda of the next meeting of Canadian justice ministers in September."

The province is determined to continue its work on this difficult and challenging issue, said Dosanjh, who added, elimination of hate propaganda is a priority for him. All of us have a role to play in combating hate.

Media Inquiries:
Kate Thompson
Ministry of Attorney General
(250) 387-5008 (Victoria)

BC Tel News Release

April 17, 1998

BC TELECOM RESPONDS TO WEB SITE COMPLAINTS

Burnaby, B.C. - BC TELECOM is asking law-enforcement agencies for assistance in responding to complaints involving Web sites served by Fairview Technology Centre Ltd., an Internet service provider in Oliver, British Columbia. A BC TELECOM subsidiary provides Internet access to Fairview Technology.

"We met with B'nai Brith and the Canadian Multi-Racism Education & Research Society two weeks ago to hear their concerns about these Web sites," said Dorothy Byrne, BC TELECOM's vice-president of law and regulatory affairs. "We immediately hired senior criminal counsel to help us review material on these Web sites. Yesterday, this external counsel advised us in a report that he did access material on these sites that, in his opinion, violates the hate propaganda provisions of Canada's Criminal Code." [BC Tel refuses to identify who was hired to provide this opinion.]

BC TELECOM has shared these findings with the hate crimes unit of the R.C.M.P. and officials with the Ministry of the Attorney-General of British Columbia. The company has also advised Fairview Technology, B'nai Brith and the Canadian Anti-Racism Education & Research Society. [BC Tel refuses to supply Fairview Technology with a copy of this 'report'.]

"We've spent an enormous amount of time and resources understanding the nature of these Web sites and grappling with our role and responsibilities as a telecommunications carrier," Byrne added.

"We've considered carefully the concerns of the complainants as well as other concerns expressed by the Internet community. Also, we've heard from hundreds of our customers. The vast majority of them believe strongly in free speech and don't feel it's appropriate for us to take direct action against this Internet service provider. This feedback has been very valuable to us because we don't want to make any decision in isolation.

"The question of restricting content on the Internet is new to us and others worldwide. In fact, it's such uncharted territory that there have not yet been any Canadian or, to our knowledge, U.S. cases that have applied hate propaganda laws to Internet communications. Quite simply, there is no easy solution. That's why we're turning to the law-enforcement agencies for assistance.

"Like most Canadians, we feel our justice system is best suited to take the lead on issues of this kind that are potentially criminal. We're hopeful the extensive research we've conducted during the past two weeks will be useful to the Attorney-General and the R.C.M.P."

BC TELECOM will comply with any request from the Attorney-General, the R.C.M.P. or another authorized law-enforcement agency to discontinue access to Fairview Technology. [Likewise, it has also been the practice of Fairview Technology to comply with requests from the R.C.M.P., NSIS or other law-enforcement agencies. We have received (and complied with) such requests investigating email threats and harrassment from customers, but no requests were ever made in regards to web-site content hosted at FTCNET.COM.]

For more information, please contact:

Michelle Gagne
Media relations manager
1-604-432-2949 (office)
1-800-892-4120 (toll-free pager)
michelle_gagne@bctel.com (e-mail address)

For more information about BC TELECOM, please visit our Internet Web site at www.bctel.com