Case 308 - Globalization: France, Nazis, and the Internet
Denemark, Robert A.
French groups sued Yahoo! in 2000 because it sponsors auctions that include Nazi memorabilia, and symbols of hate are outlawed in France. The French court ordered Yahoo! to make the auctions inaccessible in France and threatened to impose large fines, even though it is not a French firm, and no “auction” is going on in France. This case study illustrates one of the great challenges of globalization: Should countries have the right to control what kinds of ideas, goods, or services their citizens may access—or could the transparency of the Internet prove a better way to deal with historical embarrassments and hate groups than banning their symbols?
After reviewing French history, and noting the significant recent growth in the neo-Nazi movement there, the study explains legal differences over freedom of expression between France and the United States, then explores questions of corporate image and the utility of Internet filters. After Yahoo!’s eventual U.S. court victory, the case asks whether information of use to terrorists is to be protected, as well.