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Amnesty Urges Governments, Tech Firms To Stop Online Repression

A Chinese man at an Internet cafe in Beijing (file photo) (epa) November 2, 2006 -- Amnesty International today called on governments to stop suppressing freedom of expression on the Internet and urged IT (information technology) firms to stop supplying repressive regimes with the means to carry out crackdowns.

Amnesty spokesman Steve Ballinger made the call in Greece at a UN forum on Internet governance.

"The kind of countries we have been taking up cases on is Iran, Vietnam, China, and Tunisia, yet the ultimate responsibility lies with the government," Ballinger said. "You shouldn't be shutting down freedom of speech online, you shouldn't be invading people's privacy online, and you certainly shouldn't be locking people up for what they write on a blog, (or) write on an e-mail."

He added, "But companies mustn't collude, companies mustn't help these governments, and that is why we are taking action to put pressure on companies, as well."

During the forum, rights groups have accused corporations such as Microsoft and Google of helping Chinese authorities suppress freedom of expression.

(AFP, Reuters)