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Foreign Internet service providers should remove all neo-Nazi images, text, and other content that can be viewed by surfers in Germany, and which would therefore violate the laws forbidding any Nazi symbols, Germany's justice minister urged on Thursday.
Germany has very little legal control over German-language content that appears on the web, but which is hosted by servers in other countries, such as 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.