One of the problems with the internet is that in order to protect it as a global, free, communication medium you have to allow some unpleasant groups to utilise it. There is a temptation for all societies to censor and block extrmeist and hate filled views but the reality is that down that road the internet will end up as some sort of splintered, state controlled colllection of intranets. We have to accept the existence of such groups and their own right to use it as a platform. The real worry is when these groups start using the technology with guile and skill, with a very stark example now in Germany – The German Identity Movement.
This group started to rise to prominence last year when a few activists interrupted an Intercultural event in Frankfurt. There banners held calls for an end to the multiculturalism that the event was promoting. Soon after an accompanying video appeared on YouTube, receiving a lot of attention.
Their protests are very cleverly designed, there is no nasty, screaming and anger that many right wing organisations often use. This is the problem – these organisations normally manage to alienate people on their own. However Identity has a very tech savy following and embrace social media portraying itself through ’fun campaigns’. This attitude and the professionalism of their campaigns is one of the most worrying aspects.
If you dig into their messages you’ll still find the normal Islamaphobia or more radical groups. The cries of protecting German identity are all too familiar from those with knowledge of the second World War. But there isn’t the crude aggression and the racism is subtly disguised through a more articulate manner than perhaps other such parties like the British – BNP.
Germany has many laws which relate what you can do online and free speech is also protected, a good reason to use a proxy based there. It is unlike many countries where anonymity is also protected by law. Social networking sites like Facebook have had their terms of services challenged in Germany. The need for ’real names’ in the social networking site is not enforceable in Germany where anonymity online is also a right. This anonymity and legal protection is why many prefer to use proxies when surfing online, although of course many just use them to watch different TV and media in other countries – like this which shows how to watch TVN player.
The people who run and control the movements of the Identity Movement are using this anonymity to stay behind the scenes. Their anonymity is used to help protect the organisation as it promotes it’s racist and xenophobic views. It is vital we warn out young people about the lessons of history and the real intent of this slickly packaged message of hate!