August 28, 1997 6:05 PM PDT

Basque site finds new home

A controversial Web site promoting Basque independence is back online today after being yanked off the Net more than a month ago.

In July, the socially progressive Internet service provider, Institute for Global Communications, said it was forced to cut off access to the New-York based Euskal Herria Journal after it was hit with an organized denial of service and email bomb campaign by those who opposed the journal for political reasons.

Those participating in the protest said the site's producers were sympathetic to the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, an armed independence group known for its political violence in Spain. The site attack crippled IGC's service for all of its estimated 13,000 subscribers.

Now, another opponent of online censorship, Internet Freedom, has decided to take its chances hosting the contested pro-Basque site.

The free speech group condemned the attack on IGC. "The mailbombing campaign represents a malicious attempt to stifle political opinion on the Net," the Internet Freedom charged in a statement. "While many may take issue with their views, we firmly believe that Net users should be allowed to make up their own minds and see what they have to say."

The group also set up an online bulletin board for surfers to post their opinions about the issue. "The events forcing IGC to shut down this Web site clearly demonstrate that censorship is in no way confined to governmental action or restrictive legislation," said Chris Ellison, spokesman for the group.

"While many might have little time for the views of ETA or EHJ, Internet Freedom believes the Net should provide an opportunity to read about and discuss controversial issues and not close these issues down. Unlike those who are afraid of open debate, Internet Freedom is quite prepared to allow Net users to judge things for themselves," he added.

Earlier this month, 17 of the Net's most high-profile civil rights groups also came out against the techno-protest that stifled IGC. The Global Internet Liberty Campaign said ISPs should not be held accountable for the content produced by their customers. The free speech groups said the protesters, not the IGC, censored the Euskal Herria Journal.

 

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