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!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?