In the midst of a renewed debate over right-wing extremism, Germany's central Internet registry is facing scrutiny over neo-Nazi domain names.
DENIC eG (Deutsches Network Information Centre) in Frankfurt, which administers the top-level domain .de, deleted the domain name "heil-hitler.de" on Monday, some four days after it was registered.
Use of the Nazi greeting "Heil Hitler" is illegal in Germany.
"We've just been informed by a client of the Internet provider which has registered the domain name," said spokesman Klaus Herzig at DENIC.
He added that following normal procedure, the name was registered after the ISP (Internet service provider) STRATO Medien AG sent an automatic e-mail request.
When a user wants to register a domain name, the ISP automatically forwards the request to DENIC. "It's really difficult (to control domain names) because we have 200,000 registrations in a month, so it's every 15 seconds that we register a new domain name," Herzig said.
STRATO spokesman S"ren Heinze said his company has its own policy against offensive domain names. "We've always said, if we find something, we remove it immediately," he said.
Germany's Justice Ministry is pressuring DENIC to keep neo-Nazi domain names off the Web. "Everyone has a responsibility when we say as a society we want no right-wing radicalism," said ministry spokesman Christian Arns. "To that extent, we want to hold DENIC responsible too."
Asked about the problem of neo-Nazi websites registered outside Germany, Arns said there's no legal action German authorities can take, but that they can rely on moral pressure.