Yahoo Nazi ban gets mixed Reactions

Yahoo will prohibit Nazi memorabilia from being sold on its commerce sites, along with Ku Klux Klan memorabilia and other items "associated with groups which promote or glorify hatred and violence," beginning January 10. A Yahoo spokesman denied that impending penalties imposed by a French court in November prompted the change.

"We're trying to improve the quality of the site, and these items have been detracting from the quality," said Brian Fitzgerald, senior producer for Yahoo auctions. "It's important to note that the policy is not in response to the ruling."

It's not clear, either to Fitzgerald or to other observers, whether the policy change effectively complies with a French court ruling ordering Yahoo to prevent users in France from accessing US sites where banned Nazi items are sold. The court has said it will fine Yahoo about $US14,000 for each day it exceeds the order's February deadline.

German authorities have also investigated Yahoo's local site for the alleged auction sale of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," which is banned in that country. In a controversial move, Germany's highest civil court ruled that any Web site accessible by users in Germany is subject to German law, regardless of the site's physical origin.

The long-term legal and free-speech consequences of Yahoo's withdrawal remain unclear, said Donna Hoffman, a management professor at Vanderbilt University and a policy fellow with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"I don't think that there's any clear-cut trend here," she said. "Yahoo is still fighting [the French ruling] in American courts. They haven't folded their tents." She said the controversy must be resolved at the national level, with countries coming together to establish common rules.

In Europe, free-speech advocates warned of a dangerous precedent if local laws on Web content are enforced worldwide. "If you're going to talk about tens and tens of governments, all with their own rules and their own wishes towards foreign services, you will get a completely unworkable situation," said Maurice Wessling, director of the Amsterdam-based human-rights group Bits of Freedom.

"You would get the Chinese government having requirements about critical sites or critical material or maybe certain books that are sold at certain online shops; you would have the Saudi government complaining about certain sites which are religious or which deal with explicit material," he continued.

But others see the clean-up of Web content as a healthy trend. "As in any new medium, the first driving force is pornography and slightly dodgy content; once things become mainstream, all this sort of activity can be dropped and we can move on," said Alistair Kelman, e-commerce counsel at Telepathic Industries, a London-based consulting company.

Kelman said there's little danger of governments restricting Web freedom outside their borders, as long as the US remains the "umbrella" power influencing the Web. "I don't think we seriously have to worry about free speech, because America is leading the way on this one. Unless a more authoritarian government came in, then I would be worried."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?