US Calls for Indian Government to Respect Internet Freedom

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Washington, DC – The United States on Thursday reiterated its earlier call to the Indian Government to respect freedom of expression in the cyber world, according to the US State department.

Answering questions on New Delhi’s alleged threats toward US companies, including Twitter, Victoria Nuland, the spokesperson for the US Department of State, said, “We’ve said all along, and as we said publicly here, 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.”

The US expressed its willingness to assist with communication between India and the US companies, Nuland told journalists at the daily press briefing, saying, “We are in constant contact with our various companies as they reach out to us, as they need us…

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

On the broad guidelines Washington expects New Delhi to follow, Nuland said, “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.”

“Fundamentally, freedom of expression on the internet has been a keystone issue for the Secretary (of State Hillary Clinton). We discuss it in terms of human rights and universal freedoms. We look to work with our companies and with governments around the world to protect and preserve an open environment,” added Nuland.

Commenting on India’s threats to “restrict or nationalize the internet,” Nuland said, “We also would always have concerns about incitement and hate speech and this kind of thing. So it’s always a balance, but in general, we want to see a free and open internet and we want to see our companies have a good dialogue with the governments.”

The federal Indian government is blaming US-based Internet sites like Facebook and Twitter for the exodus of tens of thousand of Indians belonging to North Eastern states, after rumors spread across India that Muslims in Bangalore and other southern cities would attack migrants. (IATNS) 

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