France, Netherlands seek to halt Internet censorship

Jul 08, 2010
France and the Netherlands called for international guidelines to prevent private firms from exporting high-tech equipment that could be used for Internet censorship. Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, pictured in June 2010, said there must be "concrete measures taken to ensure that the Internet remains a universal forum" and singled out Iran for blocking access to anti-government websites.

France and the Netherlands called Thursday for international guidelines to prevent private firms from exporting high-tech equipment that could be used for Internet censorship.

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said there must be "concrete measures taken to ensure that the Internet remains a universal forum" and singled out Iran for blocking access to anti-government websites.

"We must support cyber-dissidents in the same way that we supported political dissidents," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told a meeting in Paris attended by some 20 countries including the United States and Japan.

France and the Netherlands plan to hold a ministerial-level meeting in October to flesh out the guidelines for firms who sell technology that could be used to suppress democracy.

Officials from Google and Microsoft attended the meeting in Paris, the first by a working group on freedom of expression on the Internet.

Concerns about have mostly focused on Iran and China.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has accused German engineering giant Siemens and Finnish telecoms firm Nokia of supplying Iran with technology to help it suppress dissent. The firms have denied the charges.

The Dutch foreign minister said blocking websites and was "a violation of human rights".

Jean-Francois Julliard, from the media rights group (RSF), accused French phone equipment provider Alcatel of selling bugging equipment to Myanmar.

He also singled out networking giant Cisco for allegedly selling encoders to China.

"We can also raise questions about the responsibility of France Telecom as a shareholder in operators in Morocco and Tunisia where information does not flow freely on the Internet," Julliard said.

Several non-governmental groups such as Amnesty International and Internet Sans Frontieres took part in the Paris talks along with experts and business groups.

Explore further: Turkey still hopes Twitter will open local office

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Yahoo! summit champions human rights online

May 06, 2009

Human rights trump doing business, Yahoo! chief executive Carol Bartz insisted at a summit of Internet allies combining forces to battle censorship by oppressive regimes.

China blocking Twitter, websites: RSF

Jun 02, 2009

China blocked access to Twitter, Flickr and other websites Tuesday, two days ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said, expressing "outrage" at the ...

Australia defends controversial web filter

Dec 16, 2009

Australia on Wednesday dismissed as "baseless" claims it was proposing a China-style plan for mandatory filtering of the internet and denied the system could be abused to silence free speech.

Recommended for you

Researchers uncover likely creator of Bitcoin

2 hours ago

The primary author of the celebrated Bitcoin paper, and therefore probable creator of Bitcoin, is most likely Nick Szabo, a blogger and former George Washington University law professor, according to students ...

White House updating online privacy policy

6 hours ago

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

Net neutrality balancing act

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers in Italy, writing in the International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management have demonstrated that net neutrality benefits content creator and consumers without compromising provider innovation nor pr ...

User comments : 0

More news stories