The Internet is a powerful new means of communicating both racist and anti-racist messages. Racist groups use the Internet for:
- Ideology: to spread ideas and propaganda;
- Communication: via e-mail, Usenet (news groups), chat rooms;
- Commerce: mail orders for material such as racist music, games, T-shirts etc.
- Alert-system: to mobilise individuals and groups. 
"On the other hand the Internet can be considered as a very important facility to combat racial and other forms of discrimination as well as a source of information and means to co-ordinate international action." 
In Australia, racially offensive material on the Internet may violate the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 . An offended person could submit a complaint to the Commission. Click here to access information about making a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act.
Issues for Australia include:
- How serious a problem is cyber-racism in Australia?
- How can the author or the publisher of racist material be identified?
- What if the author and host are based overseas?
- What Internet communications are 'private' and not covered by the Racial Discrimination Act?
- Should racist Internet material be treated like Internet pornography by Australian law?
Within this section you will find materials that explore these questions including:
Background information about cyber-racism, anti-discrimination law and practice
Examples of racist material on the Internet
Racial vilification law in Australia
Internet regulation in Australia
Jones v Toben - the first decision by an Australian court that anti-Semitic material on a website violates the federal Racial Discrimination Act 1975.
Dow Jones & Company Inc v Gutnick - a recent High Court case that decided that domestic defamation laws apply to Internet Content created and uploaded overseas.
Papers from the Commission's Cyber-racism Symposium, 22 October 2002:
In October 2002, the Acting Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr William Jonas, convened a Symposium on Cyber-racism. Its aims were to raise awareness of cyber-racism, share understandings and expertise and generate policy options.
Symposium participants included senior representatives from the IT industry, federal regulatory bodies, legal practice and racial equality groups. International expert, Professor Henrik Kaspersen, provided information on the Council of Europe's Additional Protocol on racism and xenophobia on the Internet.
'Race in Cyberspace',
Dr William Jonas, Race Discrimination Commissioner, presentation, Cyber-racism Symposium
'Cyber Racism and the Council of Europe's reply',
Professor Henrik Kaspersen, keynote presentation, Cyber-racism Symposium
Cyber-racism Symposium summary report
A summary of discussions by participants of the Cyber-racism Symposium, held by the Commission in October 2002.
Future Commission work on cyber-racism may include:
- Further efforts to inform the Internet industry about the prohibition on racial vilification
- Internet user education
- Efforts to ensure consistency with the federal Racial Discrimination Act in all Internet regulation regimes.
1. Professor Henrik Kaspersen, Director of the Computer/Law Institute, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in his keynote presentation at HREOC's Cyber-racism Symposium held in Sydney on 22 October 2002. See Cyber Racism and the Council of Europe's reply.
2. Professor Henrik Kaspersen, Director of the Computer/Law Institute, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in his keynote presentation at HREOC's Cyber-racism Symposium held in Sydney on 22 October 2002. See Cyber Racism and the Council of Europe's reply.