BERLIN — Germany's Justice Minister is calling for Internet service providers in the U.S. and elsewhere to remove neo-Nazi images, text and other content that can be viewed inside the country in violation of laws forbidding any Nazi symbols.
It's doubtful, though, that Germany will have much luck persuading U.S. companies to remove material that is legal in the United States.
Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said her office would appeal to foreign Internet providers to use their own terms of service as grounds for eliminating content promoting the far-right ideal.
"The general terms of service that they have issued themselves say that hate should be discouraged, so take things down that go against that," Zypries said.
A separate debate over Internet monitoring in Germany broke out last month as federal lawmakers approved legislation to allow Web sites containing child pornography to be blocked.
Using ideology or symbols from the Nazis is forbidden in Germany, but far-right groups that do not associate themselves with Nazis directly have more leeway. Stefan Glaser, spokesman for a youth-protection group called jugendschutz.net, said it catalogued 1,600 sites run by far-right extremists last year, and that the number was growing.
"The Internet has become the No. 1 propaganda platform for far-right extremists," Glaser said.
National laws routinely conflict over the borderless Internet.
France, too, has laws restricting Nazi symbols and paraphernalia, and it tried in 2000 to force Yahoo Inc. to prevent French Internet users from seeing such items on its auction pages. Although Yahoo eventually banned Nazi material, saying it did not want to profit from it, it continued to challenge the application of French law to the U.S. company.