The US today advised India to ensure Internet freedom while seeking to preserve national security, as the Indian Government asked social networking Web sites to check pages carrying inflammatory messages.

“As the Indian Government seeks to preserve security, we are urging them also to take into account the importance of freedom of expression in the online world,” State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told presspersons at her daily news conference.

Nuland was responding to questions on news reports that the Indian Government was asking Twitter to block some accounts that have been allegedly responsible for spreading rumours or false information that fanned unrest in the country following riots in Assam.

“Our understanding is that the Indian Government is working with a number of our companies — Google, Facebook and now Twitter. We stand ready to be helpful if we can, as we always do with our companies, in those conversations,” she said.

Nuland said these companies are talking to the Indian Government about application of Indian law within the context of Internet freedom.

“The general principle of respect for freedom of expression, respect for the unique characteristics of the online environment, needs to be respected, even as they work through whether there are things these companies can do to help calm the environment,” she said.

Fundamentally, freedom of expression on the Internet has been a keystone issue for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

(This article was published on August 24, 2012)
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