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September 22, 2011

Ukraine Internet Meeting Discusses Cyber Hate

As the number of Internet users continues to grow, so are the numbers of hateful postings on websites around the world. Known as cyber hate, it has become a growing issue to tackle.

According to the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, 30% of comments to articles on websites contain hate speech.

About one-third of those are remarks against politicians… and a little less than a third are directed at the persons on the other end of the debate.

17% are comments against someone mentioned in an article… and almost 15% are directed against people with different political views, nationality or locale.

Human rights activists and social leaders gathered in Kyiv recently to address the issue at a conference called “Tolerance and hate online: A Global Challenge.”

On the agenda was the threat of cyber hate and how to cope with it.

[Alexander Feldman, Conference Organizer]:

"Do not confuse our conference today with an attempt to restrict someone's freedom. Freedom does not imply a total absence of authority; offending people has nothing to do with freedom."

Violence incited by hate speech is one of the group’s main concerns.

Back in 2004, a Dutch filmmaker was killed by a Muslim after making a controversial movie called “Submission.” It depicted violence against Muslim women in Islamic societies. After the filmmaker was killed, it lead to a slew of posts online directing people to carry out acts of revenge.

[Ronald Eissens, International Network Against Cyber Hate]:

"One is in 2004, when in the Netherlands, Theo van Gogh, a filmmaker and publicist was murdered by an extreme muslim. After that there were many calls on the Internet to kill Muslims, to burn mosques, to attack Muslims. And in the weeks after this was published on the Internet more then a 74 cases of violent attacks, arson, murder took place."

It is possible to handle the calls for violence in the network mostly through Internet providers and site owners.

[Thomas Ginter, Legal Adviser, Germany]:

"For example, if we find videos on YouTube which are illegal after (under) German law, with means if they have insult or hatred in there, we are going to YouTube and ask them to shut things down. And that is something that is quite successful right now, because I would say 90% of the illegal stuff after (under) German we get shut down after contacting providers."

In the near future, a draft law regarding criminal liability for spreading hatred and incitement to violence may be submitted for consideration in public hearings. From there it will be sent to the Ukrainian Parliament.

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