B'nai Brith Canada
News Release/Communique
For Immediate Release

PRESSURE ESCALATES ON B.C. TEL TO
PULL THE PLUG ON HATE ON THE INTERNET

Toronto (March 30, 1998) Today B'nai Brith Canada's Senior Legal Counsel, David Matas met with B C Tel urging the phone company to adopt a policy against the proliferation of [so-called]hate speech on the Internet. This request was outlined in a letter sent prior to the meeting (see attached).  Currently, a client of B C Tel, Fairview Technology Centre Ltd. (FTCnet) owned by Bernard Klatt of Oliver, B.C. is providing Internet Service to several websites that [in the opinion of B'nai Brith] promote racism, antisemitism and anti-immigrant sentiment.

Canada, in contrast to the U.S. does have criminal laws limiting [so-called]hate speech and the Canadian Human Rights Act [sect. 13.1]regulates the use of a telecommunications facility to promote hatred. B'nai Brith Canada is requesting that B C Tel use preventative strategies by adopting a policy similar to AOL that has voluntary discontinued access to the Internet by those websites that contain illegal or racist material. In the meeting, Matas also cited B C Tel's own "telephone terms of service" policy [for residential regulated voice services] which clearly gives the right to terminate service on the grounds of offensive usage.

"We believe in the 1st Article of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that allows us to protect the right of freedom from persecution through ensuring that the promotion of [what we consider to be] hatred is not acceptable in our society" said Lyle Smordin, National President of B'nai Brith Canada. "Preventing the [alledged] hate speech from ever arriving on the Internet is the best method. For this we need the voluntary action of those providing Internet services. We are asking them to uphold the morality that is written into our Charter, Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code of Canada."

Today's meeting comes following an arrest in France of 13 people charged [under French law only] with [alledgedly] provoking racial hatred and uttering threats on the website of the Charlemagne Hammer Skins, a virulently white supremacist, racist and antisemitic site. The site was hosted by FTCnet.

The complete text of the letter from B'nai Brith Canada to B.C. Tel is attached (5 pages).

For more information contact:
Karen Mock, National Director, League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada
Ph (416) 633-6224 ext. 111 Fax (416) 630-2159 Email: kmock@bnaibrith.ca

Talia Klein, Research and Communications
League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada
Ph (416) 633-6224 ext. 130 Fax (416) 630-2159 Email: tklein@bnaibrith.ca