The Nuremberg Files

CS201 Final Project

by Eric Silverberg, Carrie Charpentier, Adam Goldman, Karina Luevano, and Jeffrey Petit

On January 8, over 200 doctors opened their suit against a website called the “Nuremberg Files.” The site provided detailed personal information about doctors who provide abortions amidst images of dripping blood and aborted fetuses, and calls for “justice.” The plaintiffs contended that the site constituted a threat to the safety of the listed individuals and their families. The site owners claimed that the site’s purpose was to provide information and not to incite violence. The jury found for the plaintiffs and awarded over one hundred million dollars in damages.

Through this project, we will investigate the nature and significance of online extremism and the free speech controversies to which it gives rise. Besides a thorough examination of the case and legal issues surrounding it, we will consider how new online media has given rise to other extremist groups.

In the past, extremist groups have relied primarily on traditional media to disseminate their propaganda and attempt to recruit new members. Today, such groups have taken to the Internet in force. Through web sites and email, and in newsgroups, chat rooms, and other online forums, extremists gather and communicate, and push their views to a mass audience cheaply, easily, and anonymously.

Since the means of information distribution are changing so rapidly, First Amendment rights are placed into question. We will investigate the history of ISP censorship and how it relates to the case. We intend to explore, in the context of online extremism, the issues surrounding the application of the First Amendment to cyberspace, and who if anyone should take responsibility for online content.