The Penticton Herald
Wednesday, April 1, 1998
page 1

B.C. Tel urged to pull plug on Klatt

Jewish and anti-racism groups turn up heat on Internet service provider in Oliver

by Scott Pattison

OLIVER -- Bernard Klatt continues to garner the type of attention he'd just as soon do with out.

A lawyer representing the Winnipeg-based B'nai Brith and an official of a Vancouver antiracism group met with a B.C. Tel lawyer this week to demand the phone company cancel Fairview Technology's access to theInternet.

The Jewish service and human rights group is arguing that Fairview, of Oliver, abuses the Net by carrying intolerant websites.

"The Internet at its core uses a telephone connection", said said B'nai Brith 's David Matas. "B.C. Tel should be as concerned about hate promotion over the Internet as it is about spammming (flooding of the Internet with junk mail advertising)."

In Alberta recently, Telus, that province 's major telephone company, threatened to pull the plug on an Internet service provider, if it didn't shut down one of its clients who was spamming.

Matas is encouraging B.C. Tel to apply that same logic to hate literature.

"I don't want B.C. Tel to necessarily shut him (Klatt) down. Only if he doesn't comply."

Earlier this year, an official with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre dubbed Oliver the "hate capital of Canada" because of Fairview Technology, run by Bernard Klatt.

B.C.Tel provides the phone line between the Internet and Fairview, a service provider that, in turn, connects Oliver homes to the world wide web.

As a telephone company, B.C. Tel cannot cancel Fairview's phone line because it doesn't like the content of some sites, company representative Michelle Gagne said Monday.

But as a network service provider, B.C. Tel has more flexibility to deny Fairview access to the Internet, she said.

Klatt refuses to restrict those using his business, saying every group has the right to free speech.

"What's next?" Klatt asked. "The Palestinian treatment - air strike or bulldozers - to take out a website?"

B.C. Tel has asked the human rights groups for more information about the sites to determine if Fairview contravenes content guidelines governing Internet service providers.

"What we need to decide is whether it would be appropriate on our part to cease (Fairview's) service if they're not meeting the terms of our contract", Gagne said.

"We do have the right to decide who we do business with."

"Right now we're trying to figure out if this web site is in contravention of our business agreement."

Matas said he is optimistic B.C. Tel will cancel Fairview's service.

He also hopes the phone company will introduce a code of conduct for Internet service providers similar to that for telephone users and customers who get Internet service directly from B.C. Tel.

Dave Godfrey of the B.C. Internet Association said he believes the legal system is the appropriate way to get rid of hateful sites.

He said he does not think it's right for the rights groups to attack the phone company, which is not directly responsible for what is carried on the Net.

Instead, the groups should target the site publishers or Fairview, he said.


Copyright © 1998 by The Penticton Herald. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.