Balance security with internet freedom: US tells India

August 24th, 2012 - 12:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Facebook Washington, Aug 24 (IANS) Asking India to strike a balance between national security and importance of online freedom, the US has said it stands ready to assist US social media companies in their “conversations” with New Delhi.

“We are in constant contact with our various companies as they reach out to us, as they need us,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Thursday.

She was responding to a question about New Delhi’s reported warning to Twitter to block some 20 accounts for allegedly spreading false reports.

“And as 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,” Nuland said.

“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,” she added.

However, beyond what she called “the normal dialogue”, Nuland said the US government was “not in the middle of these conversations” between US internet companies and Indian government.

Asked if potential action against Twitter would be inconsistent with freedom of expression, Nuland said: “Again, 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.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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