UN urges fight against hate speech in cyberspace

UN urges fight against hate speech in cyberspace, June 16 2009

The United Nations on Tuesday appealed to parents, the Internet industry and policy-makers to join hands to eradicate hate speech from cyberspace.

Addressing a day-long seminar titled “Unlearning Intolerance” on the danger of “cyberhate,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon lauded the benefits of the Internet but regretted that “there are those who use information technology to reinforce stereotypes, to spread misinformation and propagate hate.”

“Some of the newest technologies are being used to peddle some of the oldest fears,” he warned, decrying what he called “digital demonization… targeting innocents because of their faith, their raace, their ethnicity, their sexual orientation.”

The secretary general said the Internet industry “can help ensure that hate speech does not proliferate online” and urged policy-makers to “take a hard look at this problem and work to safeguard people while balancing basic freedoms and human rights.”

He also stressed that parents have a responsibility to teach their children to safely surf the Internet.

The world body began its “Unlearning Intolerance” series in 2004 with a forum on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and has continued the program with lectures and seminars since then.

Speakers at Tuesday’s seminar included UN Under Secretary-General for Public Information Kiyo Akasaka, chief security officer at News Corporation and MySpace Hemanshu Nigam, and Ban’s special representative on violence against children Marta Santos Pais.

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