Call To Purge Bomb Web Sites

The brother of convicted Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski joined victims of homemade bombings Wednesday in asking Internet companies to purge or block Web sites that carry recipes for building bombs, reports CBS News' Lee Cowan.

Bomb making has never been easier, according to the New York-based Center for the Community Interest. Fifteen minutes on the Internet can bring up 15 sets of instructions; instructions even children could follow - and have.

Dennis Saffran, the center's executive director, gives an example: "Shrapnel is very important if you want to kill or injure a lot of people with your pipe bomb."

That was from the Web page of Eric Harris, one of the teens responsible for the deadly bomb blasts in Littleton, Colo. His was just one of a host of Web sites, chat rooms and newsgroups that some say are an abuse of free speech that should be controlled.

David Kaczynski, who has made few public statements since he exposed his brother as the Unabomber, said he saw a parallel between his and his wife's decision to turn his brother in to authorities and the issue that faces Internet companies.

"It was absolutely agonizing for us to make the decision to turn in my brother," said Kaczynski, a social worker in upstate New York. "I think it's much less agonizing for Internet companies, and they ought to do it," he said.

His brother pleaded guilty last year to charges related to a 17-year string of bombings that killed three people and injured 29 others. David Kaczynski and his wife, Linda Patrik, tipped authorities after recognizing many of their reclusive relative's sentiments in the Unabomber's published manifesto.

Marsha Kight lost her daughter to a bomb made by Timothy McVeigh that also killed 167 others in Oklahoma City. "I hope Microsoft and all the other companies are listening to the call from people who have experienced this kind of tragedy," she said.

But companies like AOL (a content partner of CBS.com) say they already do their best to prevent such tragedies. In a statement to CBS News, AOL executives said: "Information on how to build a bomb is objectionable and harmful and as such is a violation of out Terms of Service and is not tolerated on AOL. Any such information found on AOL will be removed."

The day of the Columbine High School massacre CBS.com found detailed instructions and diagrams on how to make pipe bombs on gunman Eric Harris' AOL Web page. After it was brought to AOL's attention, the documents were taken offline and turned over to FBI investigators.

Other companies point out that much of the same information is already available at any neighborhood library. But critics charge the difference is the ease with which the information can be found. The information age has made huge advances, but it has also brought about huge challenges as well.
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

Comments