BC Tel contacts:
Michelle Gagne, Michelle_Gagne@bctel.com, Media Relations Mgr.
Dorothy Byrne, Dorothy_Byrne@bctel.com, VP Law & Regulatory Affairs
Jim McLean, Jim_McLean@bctel.net, Mgr. Business Internet Services
By GARY SYMONS
OLIVER - Controversial Internet service provider Bemard Klatt's connection to the Internet was cut off by B.C. Tel this week. [not true: BC Tel disconnect was requested April 23 '98 and completed May 4 '98]
But B.C. Tel spokesman Doug Strachan said Fairview Technology Centre was not cut due to the white supremacist websites that had been carried on Klatt's service.
Instead, Strachan said the end of their relationship with FTC was simply due to Klatt [requesting service termination and] not renewing his contract. [because of abusive contractual liability requirements]
"His original contract expired some time ago, [March '96] and he was basically going month to month," Strachan said. "He asked for a change in his service, [bandwidth upgrade] and we provided him with a standard contract. [not according to our BC Tel account rep. who said we were the first ISP to be presented with this new contract wording. We pointed out several problem areas and BC Tel did make several changes to the proposed contract during several weeks of on-going negotiations regarding the wording of the new contract.]
"That (contract) was not signed, and so that service was discontinued on Sunday." [or Monday May 4 '98] Strangely enough, Klatt's web page was still on the Internet after Sunday, but the page disappeared Wednesday.
Neither Shaw Cable nor Oliver Cable are believed to have provided a line to FTC, so it is unknown how the web page could have been on the Internet after the B.C. Tel connection was severed. [the operational characteristics of the Internet seem to be a continuing mystery to both Gary Symons and Sol Littman]
The most likely explanation would be that FTC was 'piggybacked' on someone else's server, but if that did occur, it appeared to end abruptly on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Klatt was not forthcoming on the question of his severed connection, and says he's tired of dealing with what he feels is a dead issue.
"Besides you, me and Sol, do you really think anyone else in the South Okanagan is actually interested in any of this?" Klatt asked, referring to Sol Littman of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
"Why should it matter? Do you (or Littman, SWC, CJC, B'nai Brith) plan to smear any network access provider that provides a connection to ftcnet.com regardless of whether or not any controversial websites are actually hosted on a FTCnet server?"
Klatt did confirm he gave B.C. Tel.notice of termination in April.
"B.C. Tel didn't refuse (service)," he added. "All we had to do is sign the ‘new improved' contract that we were offered. You'd have to ask B.C. Tel for their rationale regarding their actions."
Sources say the reason Klatt wouldn't sign the contract is because it contained a clause that he, as an Internet Service Provider, would be liable for the content of anything run through his server. [ISP is required to be financially and legally liable for any material posted by subscribers]
Klatt isn't the only ISP operator to be concerned about such a clause; the liability aspect of Internet site content is a hot topic of discussion for many such companies around the world. In fact, B.C. Tel's original reason for not cutting off Klatt's access is that they, as the provider of the line, did not feel they could be held responsible for the content of websites transmitted over that line. [neither do we. Responsibity for content remains with the author/poster.]
Asked whether he was being, unduly persecuted due to the controversy over the websites previously carried on his server, Klatt said the real issue now is that he feels the Wiesenthal Centre is falsely accusing him of carrying racist sites now, which he denies. [who determines if a website is 'racist'?]
"A better question would be to ask Sol Littman whether it's legal to supply false information to a government law enforcement agency in an attempt to get someone prosecuted?" he said. [See: BC OIPC Inquiry Results]
By GARY SYMONS
The Okanagan Saturday
OLIVER - The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre says controversial Internet service provider Bernard Klatt is still providing web space for racist hate groups.
Klatt said last month he was shutting down his Internet Service Provider (ISP), and his customers in the Oliver area would be served by VIP in Penticton.
But Sol Littman says that was just a manoeuvre to throw off critics of the racist sites on his Internet server. The Wiesenthal Centre advised the B.C. Attorney General on Friday that Klatt "has not closed down his Internet service and continues to facilitate the transmission of a number of viciously racist hate sites.
"Klatt, who announced last month that he was closing his service, has clearly not done so.
"We logged on to FTCnet this morning, and there were most of the old gang," said Littman.
The Okanagan Saturday also checked the old site URL of Fairview Technology Centre, and found sites for the National Socialist Movement and Ernst Zundel, among others.
Those sites are not easy to find, however, and can't be viewed simply by going onto FTCnet's home page. Instead, you either have to know the exact address of the individual website, or you have to do a 'who is' search through the Internet to find what domain names are served by the Fairview Technology Server.
Littman says, for the most part, it is people already linked to hate groups who know where to look for these sites, and that is precisely why they are so dangerous.
"The Internet allows for a great deal of communication between the various groups," Littman explained. "Now you don't have to hang out at Hayden Lake; you can hang out on the Internet. You can contact 20 to 30 groups in half an hour sitting at your computer."
The Wiesenthal Centre is again making Klatt's service the target of political pressure. It is asking the Attorney General to prosecute him for distributing hate literature, and requesting that B.C. Tel cut off Klatt's Internet access.
"B.C. Tel and the Attorney General's office may have assumed that matter
was moot once Klatt announced he was quitting," Littman said. "In
view of the fact that he is still operating in the same old way, the FTCnet
matter has to be examined again."
Sun, April 18, 1998, P. A10
BC Tel criticized over Web hate-site service
Opponents of the site want service for an Oliver Internet provider cut off.
SUN BUSINESS REPORTER
BC Tel said Friday it found hate propaganda on an Oliver Interrnet service provider's Web site. But it won't cut off the company's access to its data net- work, at least for now.
"We're going to wait until there is a court order or a request from either the attorney-general's office or the RCMP for us to take action," Dorothy Byrne, BC Tel's vice-president for law and regulatory affairs, said Friday. [that is also Fairview Tech's position]
BC Tel hired a criminal lawyer to review the material after the Winnipeg branch of the B'nai B'rith and a Vancouver anti-racist group asked it to cut off service to Fairview Technology Centre. Fairview hosts pages for a number of skinhead and other racist groups on its Web site.
"That material that has been reviewed by our outside counsel is, in short, hate propaganda," Byrne said. [BC Tel refused to identify who was hired to evaluate the web site content B'nai Brith complained about. See: BC OIPC Inquiry Results]
She said BC Tel didn't cut off Fairview's network access because there is "a myriad of other issues" to consider, such as whether the material constitutes "wilful" promotion of hatred, whether it originated in Canada, whether anyone in Canada should be charged and various "evidentiary issues."
"The issue is much larger than BC Tel," she said. Byrne said BC Tel has devoted "an enormous amount of time and resources to ensure we are doing the right thing."
David Matas of B'nai B'rith, who had asked BC Tel to cut off Fairview, said the phone company got it wrong. "They investigate the complaint, they find it's well-founded, and they do nothing about it," he sid from Winnipeg. "That doesn't seem appropriate to me."
Matas said there are precedents for cutting off service providers that violate their contracts with phone companies, [he refers to bulk email spammers] and BC Tel has "set the bar way too high" by trying to prove Criminal Code hate law violations.
In Victoria, the office of Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh issued a statement saying BC Tel's evidence will become part of a criminal investigation already being conducted by the RCMP's hate crimes unit.
It quoted Dosanjh as, saying BC Tel was acting "responsibly and appropriatly in confronting the complex issues of disseminating hate on the Internet," which he called "a particularly difficult and troubling challenge."
Bernard Klatt, who operates Fairview Technologies, did not respond to e-mail requests for an interview. [not true]
Alan Dutton of the Canadian Anti-Racism Education and Research Society, which backed the B'nai B'rith complaint, called on BC Tel to "take appropriate action, which from my perspective means that they will pull the plug on Klatt."
He said the Fairiew site included "a whole range" of hate material, including at one time [alleged] death threats on a page for a French group called the Charlemagne Hammer Skinheads. Some members of the group have been charged in France and the page has recently [it wasn't renewed] been pulled from the Fairview site.
Dutton said provincial and federal government officials need to develop more effective anti-hate laws, but he said that doesn't absolve BC Tel of its responsibility.
Exposure, April 15, 1998, p. D1
Cyber door slams
Internet provider pushed out of business over hate literature controversy
By Gary Symons
The Okanagan Saturday
Oliver's unwanted reputation as the 'Hate Capital of Canada' will end next week when Fairview Technology Centre shuts down as an Internet provider.
FTC has been targeted by human rights organizations for providing Internet access for racist and white supremacist groups. Sol Littman of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre branded Oliver the Hate Capital of Canada [in July 1996] due to the company's provision of Internet access to hate groups that have been prosecuted in their countries of origin. [not true]
Owner Bernard Klatt argued he was only providing a service and not advocating the views of his controversial clients, but his company made Oliver the centre of a controversy over censorship on the Internet. That controversy will now go on outside Oliver, as FTC is reportedly shutting down due to the intense political pressure. [false statement]
Klatt was not available for comment, but Dan Hidlebaugh of Valley Internet Providers (VIP) confirmed his company will be taking over FTC's dial-up customers as of Monday. Hidlebaugh was quick to say VIP will not be providing Intemet access for any of Klatt's website customers.
"We're going to take over their customer base, but only dialup customers," said Hidlebaugh. "We're not taking their web sites (because) I'm not interested in getting into that. It's too political; we like to stay neutral. "As a community business, we don't want to get into a bunch of controversy."
Hidlebaugh says Klatt called him and asked him about taking over his customers. Hidlebaugh agreed, and paid an undisclosed fee for the customer base.
Reaction to the move was mixed among Oliver town councillors. While they were relieved Oliver may no longer be tarred with the 'hate capital' brush, Councillors Bill Ross and Gordon Hahn said they felt Klatt had acted on the principle of opposing censorship.
"That's the plus side of it; in this instance it does take Oliver off the hook," said Hahn. "However, I would like to believe it was an issue of principle for Mr. Klatt. It's always too bad when someone loses their business, but as you say, maybe he took his chances and lost the poker game."
Ross agreed, saying, "It's good news it's shut down from the point of view of the adverse web sites carried there, but I do have compassion for Mr. Klatt.
"Due to some strong principles he had, I guess he's out of business.[not true] I'm pleased to hear the web sites are shut down, but it's unfortunate it cost a man his business." [not so]
Ross also said he believes the closing of FTC will spell the end of what he calls Oliver's unfair reputation as a hate capital.
"As long as there was something to be bantered about by the racists and the anti-racists that tag would probably stick," Ross said.
"But take away the source of the controversy, and the controversy will end."
Times, April 8, 1998, p. 13
B.C. Telecom looks into complaints
B.C. Telecom is looking to determine if it has grounds to discontinue telephone service to an Oliver Internet provider.
The telecommunications firm has received a number of formal complaints [only one- from B'nai Brith] about material posted on Web sites hosted by Fairview Technologies. Copies of those complaints have been forwarded to Fairview Technologies and the RCMP.
Dorothy Byrne, B.C. Telecom's vice-president of law and regulatory affairs, says the corporation is Fairview Technologies' provider of Internet access through its high-speed data network.
"As a telecommunications carrier, it's not our role to monitor the use of our network by our customers," she says. "However, we can discontinue service when it's determined to be used for illegal purposes."
Byrne added: "We don't want to play the role of censor, but at the same time we also don't want to do business with any company that violates criminal laws." [Fairview Tech Ctr Ltd. has NOT violated any laws]
B. C. Telecom has hired legal counsel with specific expertise [BC Tel refused to name this alleged 'expert'] in the field to help determine whether information on certain Web sites contravenes the Criminal Code.
A review is expected to be complete by the end of this week.
Herald, April 9, 1998, p. A2
BC Tel minds step in Klatt case
Phone company taking its time in considering request to cancel service to Oliver Internet provider
By The Canadian Press with Penticton Herald Staff
OLIVER - It will likely be a few more days yet before B.C. Tel decides whether to pull the plug on an Oliver-based Internet provider.
Fairview Technologies Inc. has been embroiled in a public scrap over censorship versus free speech for the past couple of months.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has dubbed Oliver the "hate capital of Canada" because of the sites accessed through Fairview - a label vehemently opposed by Oliver Mayor Linda Larson.
Now B.C. Tel is trying to deal with a formal request to void its contract with Fairview which is host to some of the World Wide Web's most virulent hate sites.
Complying with the request could put the service operated by Fairview owner Bernard Klatt out of business, but the hate sites could easily be moved almost anywhere in the world.
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association says it is watching the situation closely. The association regards B.C. Tel as a state-created monopoly, said executive member Sam Black.
For the company to shut Fairview down would be not much different from the state "cutting off the ability to these groups to express themselves," he said.
"Because we don't think that the state should be censoring groups, we don't think that B.C. Tel should be pulling the plug on these Internet providers."
But if B.C. Tel doesn't pull the plug, the B'Nai Brith and the Canadian Antiracism Education and Research Society may accuse it of failing to stop the spread of blatant Nazi propaganda and racism on the Internet.
Those two groups asked the company to cancel Fairview's contract.
Fairview provides Internet access to "hate-group promoters" and that gives B.C. Tel the right to cut off service, said B'nai Brith lawyer David Matas. "Legally, nothing stops them."
Failure to cut Fairview off would amount to B.C. Tel violating a fundamental human right, he said.
So B.C. Tel is soliciting advice from a host of sources, keeping in close touch with the complainants, Klatt, the RCMP and B.C. Attorney General's Ministry, and the mayor.
The phone company is also calling in outside legal help.
"We need to understand whether what we are dealing with is in fact in contravention of the Criminal Code," B.C. Tel spokeswoman Dorothy Byrne said.
"Some people are very strong on us acting quickly to terminate the service," she said.
"Others - and I think it's most of them - are opposing action by B.C. Tel because for them the implications for free speech would override the concerns that these people have regarding the content."
B.C. Tel is trying to assess whether Fairview's [customer website] content contravenes Canada's so-called anti-hate law, which prohibits wilfully inciting the promotion of hatred or genocide.
But it can't rely on the outcome of a trial to determine whether Fairview has broken the law. Instead, it has to make its own judgment and then decide what to do about it. [what's the definition of vigilante action?]
Michelle Gagne, B.C. Tel's media relations manager, said although the legal review was initially expected to be completed by the end of this week, it will probably not be ready until next Tuesday or Wednesday.
Okanagan Review, April 9, 1998, p. 20
BC Telecom won't play role of censor in Fairview case
BC Telecom clarified what action it is taking in response to certain Web sites posted by [customers of] Fairview Technologies Inc., an Oliver-based Internet service provider.
Dorothy Byrne, BC Telecom's vice-president of law and regulatory affairs says, "As a telecommunications carrier, it's not our role to monitor the use of our network by our customers. However, we can discontinue service when it's determined to be used for illegal purposes.
"We don't want to play the role of censor, but at the same time we also don't want to do business with any company that violates criminal laws." [Fairview Tech Ctr Ltd. has NOT violated any laws]
The company has provided copies of formal complaints [only one- from B'nai Brith] that they have received about the materials posted by the service provider to both Fairview Technologies and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Hate Crimes Unit.
According to Michelle Gagne, media relations manager, BC Telecom has received a number of E-mall responses on this issue.
She says the majority are in favor of not discontinuing service.
"Although they may not agree with the content on the Web sites. they do support free speech."
Byrne says, "We have also met with both B'nai Brith and the Canadian Anti-Racism Education and Research Society and have spoken with the office of the Attorney-General of British Columbia.
"In addition, we have hired legal counsel with specific expertise in this area to help us determine whether information on certain Web sites contravenes the Criminal Code.
"We hope to complete the review by the end of next week."
April 8, 1998, Vancouver Sun
BC tel asked to cut off net Nazis' connection
Sun Business Reporter
Vancouver Sun Like mosquitoes in a wet summer, the Net Nazis are swarming again. Efforts are being made to swat them down, but there is every reason to believe they will be elusive targets.
The focus this time around is on Fairview Technology Centre, an Internet service provider (ISP) in the peaceful south Okanagan town of Oliver.
Fairview hosts a group of national and international "hate sites," Internet showcases for white supremacists, skinheads and Holocaust deniers.
The propaganda they spread on the Internet rarely fails to get a rise from Jewish and anti-racist groups. This time, a Winnipeg-based branch of the B'nai Brith's League for Human Rights and Vancouver's Canadian Anti-Racism Education and Research Society are asking BC Tel to cut off Fairview's network connection to the Internet.
That's raising eyebrows among free-speech advocates and veteran Internet hate fighters. They fear it will allow the racists to lay claim to the moral high ground of free speech, and they insist it can't possibly work.
"Pragmatically, it's a waste of time," said Ken McVay, a British Columbian who runs the Nizkor Project, a massive on-line archive that documents and refutes every scrap of Holocaust denial, historical revisionism and Nazi propaganda published on the Internet.
McVay has been fighting hate speech on the Net for six years, compiling archives, offering to establish links between hate sites and Nizkor's Web site, and responding to virtually every hate post that appears on the Internet's Usenet section.
He said the main figure behind the racist Web sites hosted by Fairview is Marc Lemire, [not true] a key associate of Toronto Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel.
If Fairview is shut down, "Marc Lemire is going to move those sites somewhere else, probably south of the border," McVay said, "and the whole thing is going to start all over again."
In fact, Lemire has already placed a mirror site -- an exact copy -- of the Oliver hate pages on a Toronto Internet company's Web site, McVay said. More mirror sites can be established almost anywhere in the world. So even if the plug is pulled on Fairview, it will be business as usual for the hate sites.
For McVay, the last few weeks have seen a little more business than usual.
A few days after Oliver Mayor Linda Larson cancelled a March 21 "free speech" meeting in her town of some of Canada's leading far-right luminaries, Lemire and others flooded British Columbia Usenet news groups with dozens of lengthy postings.
Usenet is the rowdiest section of the Internet, with tens of thousands of news groups dedicated to everything from technical computer issues to gardening tips, over-the-top political debates and skinhead propaganda.
Lemire's postings temporarily drowned out most other topics on van.general and bc.general, groups where the normal discourse includes anything of interest to local Internet users.
The postings included diatribes on topics such as how many people died in Nazi extermination camps and whether Jewish prisoners were really turned into soap. Also posted was the full text of The Turner Diaries, an American loony-right novel in which white supremacists set off the ultimate racial war by blowing up a U.S. government building with nitrate-based explosives. The book could have served as the script for the April 1995 bombing that killed 168 people in Oklahoma City.
McVay did what he always does. Within 24 hours, he had posted responses to every message.
Some of his responses countered the original messages with factual arguments. Others pointed to pages on the Nizkor site that deal in exhaustive detail with the topics in question. Still others attacked the credibility of Lemire and other posters, with links to Nizkor pages detailing their far-right foibles.
"My whole agenda is to try and remove their market, as it were," McVay said. "They have an agenda to sell. If, by demonstrating that they are lying about a specific issue, I can remove a few hundred people from their potential market place, then I've done them some harm."
There's no way to measure how effective his approach is. But, he said, "I can tell you that in six years of this kind of activity on the Net, I have yet to see an example of a single person saying, 'Gee, I've read this propaganda and now I'm convinced and I'm a white supremacist.'
"I suspect if someone did convert because of this stuff, we would certainly hear about it. They'd parade him around like an Aryan superhero."
Like their Web sites, Usenet and e-mail access used by extremists are virtually impossible to restrict.
After last month's flurry of racist postings, some of them by Usenet regular Jason Black, several people posted follow-up messages threatening to ask Black's ISP to cancel his account. Black replied with a smirking message.
"Go ahead and send off all the complaint letters you want," it said. "I have several freenet accounts under various names all over North America, I also have several Unix shell accounts in Europe and Australia, over 60 back-up e-mails for posting through Dejanews, and god knows how many open NNTP servers that allow posting to Canadian news groups.
"So, get all the accounts cut that you want, all you accomplish is delaying me for maybe, mmm, five minutes."
McVay said it has been estimated there are about 600 hate sites on the Internet and 25,000 to 30,000 "wacko extremists" in North America. Like the rest of the population, they are increasingly buying computers and using the Internet.
While McVay disagrees with attempts to cut the Net access of white supremacists, he said he's not getting too excited about this instance because it's being approached as a contract issue between BC Tel and Fairview president Bernard Klatt, as opposed to a freedom of speech issue.
Even so, he doesn't think Fairview's [customer website] content is in violation of section 3.19 of the Criminal Code, Canada's anti-hate law.
"There is nothing illegal about saying, 'I believe in being proud of the white race, blah, blah, blah,'" McVay said. "It may be silly, but it isn't illegal."
To the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which opposes restrictions on free speech, McVay's approach makes sense.
The association holds that "the best recipe for bad speech is more speech," said BCCLA executive member Sam Black.
"We think someone like McVay is doing an invaluable service to the community. It's just the sort of activity that the association favours because one of the rationales for freedom of expression is precisely that someone like McVay will come along and force people to grapple with the best arguments available. This way, people are actually forced to reflect on their convictions."
B'nai Brith, incidentally, covers both ends of the anti-Net-Nazi spectrum. It is asking BC Tel to sever Fairview from the Net, and it collects donations for the Nizkor Project.
The Nizkor archives can be found on the Internet at www2.ca.nizkor.org/. Fairview's Web site is at www.ftcnet.com. Look for the "friends of freedom" newsletter.
April 8, 1998 00.47 EST National general news
B.C. Tel caught in middle of Internet hate scrap
VANCOUVER (CP) B.C. Tel is caught in the middle of a public scrap over censorship versus free speech on the Internet. The phone company is trying to deal with a formal request to void its contract with an Okanagan-based Internet service provider that is host to some the World Wide Web's most virulent hate sites.
Complying with the request could put the service operated by Fairview Technology Centre Ltd. of Oliver out of business, but the hate sites could easily be moved almost anywhere in the world.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has dubbed Oliver the "hate capital of Canada" because of the sites accessed through Fairview.
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association says it is watching the situation closely. The association regards B.C. Tel as a state-created monopoly, said executive member Sam Black. For the company to shut Fairview down would be not much different from the state "cutting off the ability to these groups to express themselves," he said. "Because we don't think that the state should be censoring groups, we don't think that B.C. Tel should be pulling the plug on these Internet providers."
But if B.C. Tel doesn't pull the plug, the B'Nai Brith and the Canadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society may accuse it of failing to stop the spread of blatant Nazi propaganda and racism on the Internet. Those two groups asked the company to cancel Fairview's contract. Fairview provides Internet access to "hate-group promoters" and that gives B.C. Tel the right to cut off service, said B'Nai Brith lawyer David Matas. "Legally, nothing stops them." Failure to cut Fairview off would amount to B.C. Tel violating a fundamental human right, he said.
So B.C. Tel is soliciting advice from a host of sources -- and getting unsolicited suggestions from the public. More than 50 people have e-mailed or phoned so far, most saying hands off Fairview, said company spokeswoman Dorothy Byrne.
B.C. Tel is keeping in close touch with the complainants, with the RCMP and B.C. Attorney General's Ministry, with Oliver Mayor Linda Larson, who shut down a far-right meeting in her town March 21, and with Fairview president Bernard Klatt.
The phone company is also calling in outside legal help. "We need to understand whether what we are dealing with is in fact in contravention of the Criminal Code," Byrne said. "Some people are very strong on us acting quickly to terminate the service," she said. "Others -- and I think it's most of them -- are opposing action by B.C. Tel because for them the implications for free speech ... would override the concerns that these people have regarding the content."
B.C. Tel is trying to assess whether Fairview's [customers website] content contravenes a section Criminal Code, Canada's so-called anti-hate law, which prohibits wilfully inciting the promotion of hatred or genocide. But it can't rely on the outcome of a trial [why not?] to determine whether Fairview has broken the law. Instead, it has to make its own judgment and then decide what to do about it. B.C. Tel hopes to have its legal advice in hand quickly enough to decide what to do by the end of this week, Byrne said.
Sun, April 6, 1998, p. A10
Wrong to ask B.C. Tel to censor its customers
B.C. Tel has been petitioned to cancel Internet-linking service to a company because of the - to most of us - repulsive nature of some of its clients.
The B'Nai Brith, a Jewish community organization, and the Anti-Racism and Education and Research Society met with the phone company recently to make their upset known. Both say Fairview Technology, an Oliver- located company that links homes in that city to the Internet through B.C. Tel lines, carries websites devoted to hate propaganda.
Understandable as their concern is, what they're asking for is censorship, and from the wrong authority.
The right to opinion - from the simply unpopular to the frankly imbecilic - is guaranteed; to an extent set by law we are bound to tolerate the intolerance of others. When it crosses the legally defined line between mere odious opinion and incitement to cause harm the Crown has legal means to corral such people and groups. It is to the Crown the complaint should be addressed.
Making that distinction is not and should not be the role of B.C. Tel or any other company whether it's privately or publicly owned.
BC Tel, April 3, 1998
BC TELECOM REVIEWS COMPLAINTS ABOUT WEB SITES POSTED BY B.C. INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER
Burnaby, B.C. — BC TELECOM today clarified the steps it is taking in response to certain Web sites posted by [users of] Fairview Technologies Inc., an Internet service provider in Oliver, British Columbia.
"We want to explain how we’re dealing with this very complex and sensitive issue," said Dorothy Byrne, BC TELECOM’s vice-president of law and regulatory affairs. "In this situation, we are Fairview Technologies’ provider of Internet access through our high-speed data network.
"As a telecommunications carrier, it’s not our role to monitor the use of our network by our customers. However, we can discontinue service when it’s determined to be used for illegal purposes." Byrne added: "We don’t want to play the role of censor, but at the same time we also don’t want to do business with any company that violates criminal laws." [This is also Fairview Tech's position.]
BC TELECOM has provided to Fairview Technologies and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police copies of formal complaints received about material posted by the Oliver-based Internet service provider.
"We have also met with both the B’nai Brith and the Canadian Anti-Racism Education & Research Society, and spoken with the office of the Attorney-General of British Columbia. In addition, we have hired legal counsel with specific expertise in this area to help us determine whether information on certain Web sites contravenes the Criminal Code," Byrne said. "We hope to complete that review by the end of next week."
Globe and Mail, March 28, 1998, p. A3
BC Tel won't pull Klatt's plug
Phone utility says it can't drop Web site host despite complaints of racism, anti-Semitism
BY ROSS HOWARD
British Columbia Bureau
VANCOUVER ---- British Columbia's major telephone company will not unplug an Internet service provider that has been accused of hosting Web sites from racist and hate-mongering organizations from around the world.
"We don't have the right to determine what is offensive ... and can only take action at the request of the police," BC Tel spokeswoman Michelle Gagne said yesterday.
Ms. Gagne was responding to calls the B'nai Brith organization yesterday to take action against Bernard Klatt and his company, Fairview Technology Centre Ltd., located in the town of Oliver in the Okanagan Valley.
David Matas, a lawyer and vice-president of B'nai Brith Canada, said he plans to meet officials from BC Tel on Monday to demonstrate that the company has an obligation to shut down Fairview Technology's access to public telephone lines, and how BC Tel can avoid legal liability for doing so.
Mr. Klatt's company has been identified by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre as being the link to World Wide Web pages which display the ideas and claims of anti-Semitic, racist and sexist organizations located in several countries.
Mr. Klatt has fended off criticism with the argument that he is simply facilitating free speech and is doing nothing illegal. He has said he does not intend to remove the hate sites from his service. Some of the people operating sites on or linked to his service have been arrested in other countries, most recently last month in France, and charged with spreading hate and uttering threats.
Mr. Klatt attempted to hold a meeting of far-right leaders, billed as a defence of free speech, in Oliver two weeks ago, but the mayor revoked his permission to use a town-owned hall.
The B.C. government has known about Mr. Klatt's operation for at least year, and although it repeatedly has said it is sending its special hate-crimes police team to investigate, it as taken no apparent action against Fairview, Mr. Matas said in an interview yesterday.
Mr. Matas said other telephone companies in Canada and elsewhere have taken action against controversial Internet service providers. However, Ms. Gagne said BC Tel was unaware of any such cases.
"We personally don't like Web sites that are racist in nature," Ms. Gagne said in an interview. "But we are not the provider, we are one step removed. We just provide telephone connection from the service provider to the Internet.
"It is like a telephone line. We cannot unplug it because we dislike what is said over the phone."
BC Tel has relayed complaints about Fairview Technologies to the RCMP for some time, but has received no direction or comment back, she said.
SUN, March 28, 1998, p. A8
BC Tel urged to pull plug on service used by racists
A lawyer for B'nai Brith says the phone company can legally cut the service.
A lawyer for the human rights group B'nai Brith is in Vancouver trying to convince BC Tel to pull the plug on an Internet service used by racists and hate-mongers.
BC Tel should cut off service to Fairview Technology of Oliver "because of the fact that they give access to hate-group promoters," David Matas said Friday.
The phone company confirmed that a meeting has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday between Matas and a BC Tel lawyer. Vancouver anti-racism activist Alan Dutton is also to attend.
Matas said he has prepared a written submission for BC Tel's lawyer that argues the phone company, as a private enterprise, can legally deny service to Fairview.
"It's basically that they can do it and they should do it. Legally nothing stops them. There are standards that suggest that they should do it," said Matas, senior lawyer for the Winnipeg-based group.
A BC Tel official said Friday cutting off an Internet service would be like disconnecting a telephone line because it was being used for offensive conversations.
"Although we personally don't like websites that are racist in nature ... we don't have the authority to disconnect the site based on our own opinions," media relations manager Michelle Gagne said.
"We can only take action at the request of law enforcement agencies like the RCMP."
But Matas, one of Canada's top human-rights lawyers, sees it differently. "This is a private enterprise and they're not obligated to keep Fairview on the Internet."
Racist, anti-Semitic and ultra-right groups around the world use Fairview to spread their messages of hate and intolerance on the Internet. The company is owned by Bernard Klatt.
The site has prompted one Jewish group [Sol Littman] to brand Oliver- an otherwise idyllic wine-making and fruit- growing community in B.C.'s southern Okanagan- "the hate capitol of Canada."
The profusion of neo-Nazi messages making their way on to the Internet via Oliver has led to debate over whether the Internet should be censored when used for purposes offensive to most people.
Klatt refuses to restrict those using his business, saying: "I make no apologies for content."
Province, March 29, 1998, p. 17
Cut Klatt's phone, says B'nai Brith
By Clare Ogilvie
Tired of waiting for the authorities to pull the plug on an Internet service used by racists and hate-mongers, B'nai Brith is taking things into its own hands.
The human rights organization will meet tomorrow with BC Tel to try to persuade it to cut the phone line to Fairview Technology Centre in Oliver.
We are going to be asking them to cut Fairview off, which of course they can do," said David Matas of B'nai Brith.
Fairview is owned by Bernard Klatt and his Internet server is used by white supremacists, neo-nazis and skinheads.
Klatt told The Province earlier the material "represents a wide range of viewpoints. I make no apologies for the content."
BC Tel was unavailable for comment but has said it can no more disconnect Fairview than it could cut off someone's phone because it does not like what is being said.
Sun, March 31, 1998, p. A8
BC Tel Pressed to axe hate website
The phone company has asked human rights groups for more details
BC Tel has not ruled out pulling the plug on an Oliver-based Internet service provider that circulates websites run by racists and hate promoters.
A lawyer representing the Winnipeg based B'nai Brith and an official of a Vancouver anti-racism group met with a BC Tel lawyer Monday to demand the phone company cancel Fairview Technology's access to the Internet.
The human rights groups argue Fairview abuses the Net by carrying intolerant websites.
BC Tel is the middleman, providing the phone line between the Internet and Fairview - a service provider that, in turn, connects Oliver homes to the world wide web.
As a phone company, BC Tel cannot cancel Fairview's phone line because it doesn't like the content of some sites, media relations manager Michelle Gagne said Monday.
But as a network service provider, BC Tel has more flexibility to deny Fairview access to the Internet, she said.
BC Tel has asked the human rights groups for more information about the sites to determine if Fairview contravenes content guidelines governing Internet service providers.
"What we need to decide is ... whether it would be appropriate on our part to cease [Fairview's] service if they're not meeting the terms of our contract," Gagne said.
"We do ... have the right to decide who we do business with."
B'nai Brith lawyer David Matas said he is optimistic BC Tel will plug on Fairview. He also said he hopes the phone company will introduce a code of conduct for Internet service providers similar to that for telephone users and customers who get Internet service directly from BC Tel.
Alan Dutton, executive director of Vancouver's Anti-Racism Education and Research Society, argued telephone companies have cancelled service to stalkers who pester victims over the phone.
Dave Godfrey, of the B.C. Internet Association, said he believes the legal system is the appropriate way to get rid of hateful sites.
He said he does not think it's right for the rights groups to attack the phone company, which is not directly responsible for what is carried on the Net. Instead, he said, the groups should target the site publishers or Fairview.
Fairview owner Bernard Klatt refuses to restrict those using his business, saying every group has the right to free speech. "What's next? The Palestinian treatment - air-strikes or bulldozers - to take out a website?" he asked Monday.
Province, March 31, 1998, p. D33
BC Tel ‘steps removed' from Oliver ‘hate' site
By Holly Horwood
BC Tel is investigating a request to pull the plug on Internet service provider and alleged hate-monger Bernard Klatt of Oliver.
But company officials reject suggestions they are breaking their own ethical standards and a Canadian code of conduct for Internet service providers by providing phone links for Klatt to hundreds of users.
"We provide the Internet pipeline, if you will, but we are not the service provider," said BC Tel spokeswoman Michelle Gagne.
"We do not host the Web site. We're a few steps removed."
BC Tel's corporate lawyer and head of Internet business services received the first [and only] formal complaint yesterday against Klatt's company, Fairview Technology Centre Ltd.
"There is no fundamental human right to an Internet service account," argued David Matas, lawyer for the Jewish organization B'nai Brith, which launched the protest.
He noted that BC Tel has its own Web site combating racism but said that effort "will inevitably seem hollow" as long as it allows its services to be used "to incite racist hatred."
Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh, who has urged tougher federal hate laws, called on BC Tel yesterday to be a "good corporate citizen" and work with the complainants.
B'nai Brith alleges that Klatt's Fairview Technology Centre is host to far-right extremists Heritage Front and Euro-Christian Defence League, which spew messages of racial hatred.
"Klatt is unique, not just in B.C. but unusual in a global context," said Matas. "He has a collection of hate suppliers and given them access that other Internet service providers do not ... he has his own agenda."
BC Tel asked B'nai Brith to provide more details of the hate messages. But Gagne cautioned the normal line of complaint is to the server - who is Klatt.
Herald, April 1, 1998, front page
B.C. Tel urged to pull plug on Klatt
Jewish and anti-racism groups turn up heat on Internet service provider in Oliver
By SCOTT PATTISON
With The Canadian Press
OLIVER - Bernard Klatt continues to garner the type of attention he'd just as soon do with out.
A lawyer representing the Winnipeg-based B'nai Brith and an official of a Vancouver antiracism group met with a B.C. Tel lawyer this week to demand the phone company cancel Fairview Technology's access to the Internet.
The Jewish service and human rights group is arguing that Fairview, of Oliver, abuses the Net by carrying intolerant websites.
"The Internet at its core uses a telephone connection," [not true] said said B'nai Brith 's David Matas. "B.C. Tel should be as concerned about hate promotion over the Internet as it is about spammming (flooding of the Internet with junk mail advertising)."
In Alberta recently, Telus, that province 's major telephone company, threatened to pull the plug on an Internet service provider, if it didn't shut down one of its clients who was spamming.
Matas is encouraging B.C. Tel to apply that same logic to hate literature.
"I don't want B.C. Tel to necessarily shut him (Klatt) down. Only if he doesn't comply."
Earlier this year, an official [Sol Littman] with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre dubbed Oliver the "hate capital of Canada" because of Fairview Technology, run by Bernard Klatt.
B.C.Tel provides the phone line between the Internet and Fairview, a service provider that, in turn, connects Oliver homes to the world wide web.
As a telephone company, B.C. Tel cannot cancel Fairview's phone line because it doesn't like the content of some sites, company representative Michelle Gagne said Monday.
But as a network service provider, B.C. Tel has more flexibility to deny Fairview access to the Internet, she said.
Klatt refuses to restrict those using his business, saying every group has the right to free speech.
"What's next?" Klatt asked. "The Palestinian treatment - air strike or bulldozers - to take out a website?"
B.C. Tel has asked the human rights groups for more information about the sites to determine if Fairview contravenes content guidelines governing Internet service providers.
"What we need to decide is whether it would be appropriate on our part to cease (Fairview's) service if they're not meeting the terms of our contract,' Gagne said.
"We do have the right to decide who we do business with."
"Right now we're trying to figure out if this web site is in contravention of our business agreement."
Matas said he is optimistic B.C. Tel will cancel Fairview's service.
He also hopes the phone company will introduce a code of conduct for Internet service providers similar to that for telephone users and customers who get Internet service directly from B.C. Tel.
Dave Godfrey of the B.C. Internet Association said he believes the legal system is the appropriate way to get rid of hateful sites.
He said he does not think it's right for the rights groups to attack the phone company, which is not directly responsible for what is carried on the Net.
Instead, the groups should target the site publishers or Fairview, he said.
Chronicle, April 1, 1998, front page
Anti-racism groups push BC Tel to dump FTCnet
BY KATHLEEN CONNOLLY
Opponents of Bernard Klatt's FTC Internet provider are now calling on BC Tel to cancel his telephone service.
The Oliver man allows groups supporting white supremacy and NeoNazism to establish websites on his server. Klatt has come under fire in recent months for the business decision, and was the subject of a free speech rally held in Oliver March 21.
Now, B'nai Brith of Canada has called on BC Tel to stop "enabling" Klatt to spread hatred through the Internet. B'nai Brith vice-president David Matas and Alan Dutton of the Canadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society met with BC Tel representatives Monday in Vancouver.
BC Tel spokesman Michelle Gagne said the meeting was "very straightforward."
"We were there to listen to B'nai Brith and look at the next step," said Gagne, adding she has asked Matas to provide more specific information regarding the questionable websites.
But Gagne said the telephone company is "two steps removed from the actual problem", noting Klatt provides the actual service to those who post the objectionable material. "He is using a pipeline of ours to get to the Internet but we don't offer service directly to (Klatt's) customers.
"We don't have the authority to disconnect a phone line based on our opinions," said Gagne, but added BC Tel will study its Internet server contracts and make sure Fairview Technology complies with the terms of the agreement.
Matas, a lawyer, has informed BC Tel that it does have the authority to deny service to Klatt.
"This is a private business, they are free to do business with whoever they want. The corner grocer doesn't have to stock pornography. This has nothing to do with free speech - it's a business decision."
Matas said there is plenty of established precedence of telephone companies restricting Internet access. He said Telus, an Alberta phone company, recently threatened to end access for a provider whose sites were being used by "Spammers" to litter e-mail addresses with junk mail.
"They were told they had 48 hours to get rid of the client or they would lose all connections. We're asking BC Tel to give an ultimatum to Fairview," he said. "Promoting hate speech is a far more harmful activity than spamming. Spamming, at its worst, leads to failure of the Internet. Hate speech has lead to the murder of millions." [really?, Alan Berg is the only one I've heard of]
Matas noted legislation states telephone service cannot be denied as long as bills are paid and other conditions are met. However, he said no such legislation exists for Internet providers.
"It's just a commercial enterprise. "If, for whatever reason, you're hesitant to make a judgment on legality, surely there cannot be any disagreement that the use of the Internet to promote hatred is an abuse," Matas told BC Tel.
Klatt also provides Internet access through the Oliver cable company. Company spokesman Ian McKay said OTV will provide access until Klatt asks to discontinue the service.
"We have an obligation to service anyone who asks," said McKay.
However, OTV asked Klatt to remove his telephone equipment from the local cable office when news of Klatt's clients first became public.
He had equipment in our office, we asked him to vacate the premises."
But McKay said the cable company won't act as a "moral judge" and stressed that Klatt's clients "are not clients of ours."
"I guess we've wrestled with that question on more than one occasion... we can't be the moral judge of everyone in the country and deny them TV."
McKay said all Klatt needs to offer cable access is a business account with OTV and a modem.
In the meantime, the Oliver Chronicle has learned that Klatt's rural telephone service is not adequate to maintain an Internet provider business. Because FTCnet uses the 498 exchange, Klatt's equipment and telephone lines must be housed somewhere within the town of Oliver. A BC Tel representative said the phone lines must be housed in a local commercial or industrial business as residential lines are not sufficient to handle the caller load.
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