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Germany investigates online Hitler auction

Germany investigates online Hitler auction

MUNICH, Germany -- German prosecutors are investigating U.S. Internet company Yahoo! over the suspected online auction of copies of Hitler's book "Mein Kampf," which is banned in the country.

Manfred Wick, senior prosecutor for the state court in Munich, said unnamed executives of the company were under investigation for the auction of the book on Yahoo!'s German Web site on February 1 and again on April 19 this year.

Wick said the first date referred to an auction reported by a private individual and the second to the results of prosecutors' investigations.

A French court last week ordered the California-based firm to stop people in France from accessing sites selling Nazi memorabilia, prompting shares in the company to slide.

The sale of Nazi memorabilia and books is illegal in both France and Germany.

Claudia Strixner, spokeswoman for Yahoo! in Germany, said she could not comment on the investigation, but said the company did all it could to prevent such material appearing on its sites.

"The company distances itself from Nazi philosophy," she said. "On the German Yahoo Web site 90,000 objects are on offer.

"As soon as Yahoo! gets information that illegal products are included, it removes them."

In Japan on Monday, police inspected Yahoo!'s Tokyo office in connection with the alleged sale of child pornography videos by a man using the company's web site.

The Internet industry is worried national governments will start to censor the World Wide Web.

Yahoo!'s Sue Jackson said in a recent interview that the landmark ruling in France which prevents users from accessing sites selling Nazi memorabilia would have a "chilling" effect on the growth of the Internet.

Opinion worldwide has caused debate between those who want to uphold the freedom of the Internet at all costs and those who wish to stop the spread of malign influences.

Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Web worries over French site ban
November 21, 2000
Yahoo! anger at French Nazi auction ban
November 21, 2000
Yahoo! denied French access to Nazi items
November 20, 2000
Yahoo! loses Nazi auction case
November 20, 2000
Nazi web site gag 'impossible'
November 6, 2000

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Yahoo!
German Government
French Government

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