Action Report masthead

No.14, July 20, 1998

Sinister Attempt to Muzzle Free Speech on the Internet

"The First Amendment? -- That's included in the $29.95, sir."

LONDON -- Webmasters of leading sites on the rapidly expanding global Internet (current estimate: 200 million viewers) are keeping a weather eye on signs that government and wealthy private agencies following their own agendas may soon succeed in imposing, through a combination of police coercion and technical trickery, their own brand of censorship on the Internet's "world wide web" (WWW).

Principal villains in the piece are the Chinese-communist and German governments.

German law-enforcement agencies are trying to prevent "propaganda" reaching their intellectual wasteland from North America: what some say are the archive-based real facts about modern history, the German government dismisses -- and now prosecutes -- as racism, incitement, and even "defamation of the memory of the dead."


[See the German government's own report on its widely-criticised attempt to silence German-Canadian Ernst Zündel, p. 15].

In the United States two bodies, seemingly unlinked but clearly following the same agenda, are leading the fight against free speech.

The New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has teamed with The Learning Company on converting its Cyber Patrol "parental control" Internet software that will screen out Websites which the ADL alleges promote anti-Semitism and " hate speech." (Critics argue that the ADL is itself one of the world's most virulent sources of anti-Semitism).

Available since January 1998 on the ADL Website, the software, costing $29.95, will send surfers who try to access "hate sites" to the ADL's site instead.

The other body, SurfWatch, a Division of Spyglass Inc., based near San Francisco, works hand-in-glove with the ADL, and is producing software to enable schools to block access for curious minds to "bad sites".

"In the near future," predicts the specialist computer-users' journal MacHome in its March 1998 issue, "parents will find filters developed by specific groups, such as the National Education Association of the Jewish Federation."

The blocking programme SurfWatch 3.0 already polices the Internet with am Orwellian combination of computer-software based on "context-based pattern matching," which searches for offensive keywords, and teams of human censors who trawl through cyberspace.


| See too our file on SurfWatch |


SurfWatch posts regular updates listing those Websites which its software disallows: users can set preferences which not only stem the flow of sex, gambling, violence, drugs and alcohol, but also expunge anything classed by the SurfWatch cyber-gremlins as "hate speech." The company points to its "Core Category Criteria", defined on May 1, 1998: "Surf-Watch criteria are reviewed with our Advisory Committee on a monthly basis to ensure responsible filtering."

Their software can be adjusted to block a site if it displays a screen warning identifying it as adult-oriented, or if it "predominantly contains" links to sites that are sexually-oriented, exploitive or violent, containing "bondage, fetishes, genital piercing," or advertising escort services and strip clubs. Careful not to offend the homosexual lobby, SurfWatch promises however: "We do not block on the basis of sexual preference."

It is on Hate Speech that SurfWatch proves unexpectedly impenetrable and implacable: These sites it identifies as those

"advocating or inciting degradation or attack of specified populations or institutions based on associations such as religion, race, nationality, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation sites which promote a political or social agenda which is supremacist in nature and exclusionary of others based on their race, religion, nationality, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation."


Critics point out that much of the British and US Government's propaganda output during the Gulf War could fall foul of this definition.

While SurfWatch assures customers, "We do not block news, historical, or press incidents that may include the above criteria ..." it becomes mysteriously specific on WW2, announcing that, of all possible historical controversies, it will block only "Holocaust revision/denial sites."

They lump such sites under the category "violence" and "hate". These are concepts which even the SurfWatch censors find hard to operate evenly. In one magazine's tests the Website of the White Aryan Resistance pass the SurfWatch filters effortlessly.

Nor does SurfWatch software block the Websites of either the Jewish Defense League (JDL), even though it is listed by the FBI as a terrorist organization, or Anti Racist Action, which provides rabid mobspitters and preaches violence against law enforcement personnel.

How objective is the system? Those with Internet access can key our Website's URL:( into the SurfWatch engine where -- they will learn that the Action Report site is blocked under "hate/violence".


ACTION REPORT invited SurfWatch on Jun. 22, 1998 to justify these libellous definitions.

SurfWatch spokesperson "Christine Meginness" (Division: "SurfWatch Content"), responded:

"The site does meet SurfWatch blocking criteria for Violence/Hate Speech," as it falls under the definition of Holocaust revision/denial sites. "The site will remain blocked in our filters."

ACTION REPORT called on SurfWatch to indicate which specific files were alleged to fall foul of these criteria, "in order that we can review them ourselves with a view to meeting your criticisms."

The software developer replied:

"There are numerous files on the which meet the above indicated criteria, including

It is plain that their search-engines are triggered by all files (URLs) containing the word or file name Auschwitz.

In fact the first file is an index listing documents on both sides of the historical controversy, expressing no views whatever; the second is an exchange of correspondence about events when US Army forces liberated the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau.


SurfWatch in a standard response deny receiving funding from any political or religious group or following a hidden agenda:

"We do not claim that our blocking criteria are objective criticisms, but are subjective criteria posted publicly for SurfWatch users, both current and prospective, as well as any curious Internet user, to read and review."

Signing as ACTION REPORT Webmaster, David Irving replied:

"Any person finding the two URLs mentioned by you objectionable is in my view quite a sick bunny. I shall post your reply on my SurfWatch page, with hyperlinks to the two URLs concerned, and the rest of the world can now form their own opinion about your objectivity. Maybe they will applaud; perhaps they will not."

Anger at SurfWatch arrogance goes right across the Internet. Holocaust agitator Jamie McCarthy, an anti-Real History fanatic who equally opposes mindless censorship, protested to anti-censor newsgroups at the site's inclusion on SurfWatch blocking software, and sent an alert to his "fight-censorship mailing list."

McCarthy suggested however that given SurfWatch's criteria, the site merited inclusion since "David Irving is one of the world's leading figures in that [Holocaust revisionism] field."

McCarthy sincerely believes that the SurfWatch company has nothing to do with the ADL.

Readers might like to comment to Software, a Division of Spyglass Inc., 175 S. San Antonio Rd, Ste 102, Los Altos, CA 94022, Phone: 650-948-950

Register your name and address to go on the Mailing List to receive


| Return to Index to AR.#14 | Return to Main Action Report Index |

Order books | Auschwitz Index | Irving Index | Irving Page | Irving Book-List | Other FP Authors
GermFlag Buchladen | Auschwitz | Irving-Verzeichnis | -Hauptseite | -Bücher | Weitere FP-Autoren
© Focal Point 1998 F DISmall write to David Irving