The United Nations (UN) has begun to explore regulatory plans that could dramatically affect the future of the Internet. Mary Robinson, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, is considering whether to monitor the Internet for what the UN terms "hate speech", such as racist propaganda. It will be Robinson's job to decide how, or if, such material should be policed and whether this will have an effect on reducing racial discrimination. In tandem with the High Commissioner's investigations, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which has already made recommendations for the Global Information Infrastructure (next generation Internet), is looking at technology to enforce Internet regulations. The first reports on the investigations can be expected in the first quarter of next year. The UN's activities in this area have also come under close scrutiny from human rights organisations. Yaman Akdeniz, founder of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties, believes any attempt at Internet regulation will blow up in the regulator's face. He explained: "The enforceability of national laws, such as the hate speech laws in Germany and copyright in the UK, proved to be impossible on Internet-related issues." Akdeniz is surprised that the UN is involved in regulatory discussions but believes its involvement signals a more mature approach in how governments view the Internet. "This proves that Internet-related problems deserve not only national and supranational attention, but a global level of governance," he said. "The Internet remains bigger than any single nation state, and even the EU. It will resist any attempt to regulate it. After all, it was designed to withstand a nuclear attack." So far, it has been virtually impossible to regulate the Internet. In 1996, German authorities tried to block Ernst Zundel's web site in Toronto, which refers to the Holocaust as the "lie of the century". The authorities' censorship had the reverse effect - hundreds of copies of the material appeared on sites all over the world.
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