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"Can one country exert control over a global network"
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Tuesday, 23 May, 2000, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
France bans internet Nazi auctions
Yahoo France website
Yahoo France should stop access to Nazi sites
A French judge has ruled that the US Internet Service Provider Yahoo! Inc must make it impossible for French users to access sites auctioning race hate memorabilia.

In a landmark ruling, Judge Jean-Jaques Gomez gave Yahoo! Until 24 July to comply with his order.

Existing French law prohibits the selling or display of anything that incites racism.

The question put before this court is whether a French jurisdiction can make a decision on the English content of an American site, run by an American company ... for the sole reason that French users have access via the Internet

Christophe Pecnard
Yahoo! Lawyer

The judge said online neo-Nazi auctions offended "the collective memory of the country".

Nazi-related items are not available on Yahoo's French site

But an estimated 1,000 items including Nazi and Ku Klux Klan objects, pictures, coins and flags are auctioned each day on Yahoo's American site - - which is accessible from France.

Last week, the Union of Jewish Students and the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (Licra) filed a law suit against Yahoo! accusing it of allowing access to websites auctioning Nazi memorabilia.

They also asked that Yahoo! be forced to stop such sales in France and be fined $91,000 for each day that it did not comply with the law.
Yahoo French Director Philippe Guillanton
Yahoo Fr Director Guilanton says case is potentially dangerous

Yahoo said it condemned all forms of racism but added the case raised significant questions.

A lawyer for the internet service provider said the real question was whether a French court had jurisdiction over the English-language content of an American website.

And the director of, Philippe Guillanton, said: "The point is whether we want the internet to be closed the same way that the media have traditionally been closed by frontiers."

Yahoo! has previously argued that it could not guarantee respect for laws in every country in which it accessed.

But Marc Levy, who represented Licra in the case, said the court had rendered a service to the internet, which ran the risk of becoming a "no law zone".

The judge also ordered Yahoo to pay 10,000ff ($1,390) each to the two groups which brought the case.

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11 Apr 00 | Europe
French anti-racists sue Yahoo
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