CD-ROM tracks hatred and terrorism websites
Andy Johnson, CTV.ca News
Published Saturday, August 11, 2007 10:21AM EDT
A new study lists a white supremacist website and an online jihad group as two of Canada's most problematic sources of hate and terror on the Internet.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies' Digital Terrorism and Hate 2007 CD-ROM report is an international effort involving researchers in Los Angeles, Toronto, Jerusalem, Paris, New York and Buenos Aires. It compiles more than 600 of the world's most troubling websites.
The final list was culled from a list of close to 7,000 problematic websites, blogs and newsgroups, as well as YouTube and other user-generated video sites. It was released Friday in Vancouver.
Among the worst in Canada is a website calling itself B.C. White Pride and another, also from B.C., known as Jihad Unspun.
The Wiesenthal project is intended to raise awareness and bring about global action.
"The key goal, and one of the things we want to accomplish eventually is an international understanding or convention about usage of the Internet," Leo Adler, director of national affairs for Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies, told CTV.ca.
"In the meantime it's simple an awareness by the public about what has been called the dark side of the Internet."
Adler said that although the Internet is on one hand an incredible tool for education, it has also become a hotbed of hatred and terrorism that threatens to cancel out the web's positive attributes.
"Whether it's learning how to set up a cellular phone detonator as was to occur in England, the instructions for that are on the Internet. Whether it's how to create a bomb, that is on the Internet," he said.
The report also looks into the increased use of "viral video" as a means of spreading hate and terror on the Internet, and the CD includes some of the most shocking and powerful terrorist videos released by terrorists to the Web.
Adler said: "Terrorist organizations are using the net to bypass parental control to directly recruit young people into their culture of death."
Adler said there is no international body regulating what is on the Internet, and no way of verifying the authenticity of claims that are being made online.
Some countries have established their own regulatory systems, and Canada is one of those leading the field, but the ultimate goal of the project is a universal set of regulations that will be embraced by countries around the world.
While some critics maintain that the report simply draws attention to hatred-inciting websites, Adler said people -- from parents to children to police and school administrators -- need to be educated about the dangers that exist online.
"We don't believe in censorship, we believe in responsibility and the only way we can be responsible is if we know the difference between what is wrong and what is right."