Asserting that freedom of expression applies equally to the Internet as it does in the real world, the United States has said that it is in talks with Indian government over the regulatory mechanism on Internet.
“We believe that freedom of expression applies equally to the Internet as it does in the real world,” the State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, told reporters at his daily news briefing when asked about the efforts of the Indian Government to regulate/monitor content postings on the Internet and social network sites like Facebook.
However, the State Department spokesperson clarified twice that its position on internet freedom is not necessarily India specific, but in general globally.
“We are concerned about any effort to curtail freedom of expression on the Internet,” he noted.
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on Tuesday said that the government has asked companies including Google and Facebook Inc to block offensive material, especially content that could hurt religious sentiments of some Indians.
With India, Mr. Toner acknowledged that this is indeed one of the topics of discussion with the Indian Government and is part of the strategic dialogue.
“In terms of India we do have a working group on information and communication technology between the U.S. and India, and it’s part of our overall strategic dialogue.
“Of course, we within that working group do talk about issues on information technology, discuss approaches our governments can take to create investment, for example, on regulatory environments that maximise the development of these sectors,” Mr. Toner said in response to a question.
The State Department said America’s position is very clear and the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is scheduled to deliver a major speech on internet freedom in The Hague today.
He did not give an insight in to the much anticipated speech, but the recent developments in India and South Korea in this regard is most likely to figure.
“Our position’s clear. Secretary Clinton’s called on the global community to protect freedoms of expression,association and assembly in the online world as we do in the regular world. We uphold those beliefs. I don’t want to get out too far in front.
“She’s actually going to be talking about freedom of expression, Internet freedom, in the address in The Hague, so I don’t want to pre-empt that speech,” Mr. Toner said.