By Tejinder Singh<


Washington, D.C.

The United States issued a cautious reaction to the recent requests by India to social networking sites to take down potentially offensive content.

The State Department spokesman Mark Toner told journalists that the global community should protect the freedom of expression, association and assembly in the online world as much as in real world.

"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," said Toner.

Asked to state the U.S. position on the freedom of express, Toner said, "I would just say our position on internet freedom is clear. We call on the global community to protect freedom of expression, association, and assembly in the - on the - in the online world as we would in the real world. The same principles apply."

Citing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's calls to "the global community to protect freedoms of expression, association, and assembly in the online world as we do in the regular world," Toner said, "I don't want to get out too far in front; she's actually going to be talking about internet expression and - freedom of expression, internet freedom tomorrow in an address in The Hague. So I don't want to preempt that speech."

Secretary Clinton is expected to address the issue with keynote remarks on December 8 at the Freedom Online conference hosted by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague where the United States, along with 22 other countries and other non-governmental participants to launch an international coalition of states committed to working with businesses, civil society, and relevant stakeholders to take concrete actions to advance Internet freedom worldwide.

Earlier the Indian Telecommunication Minister Kapil Sibal directed Facebook, Google and similar social platforms to find a way to ensure that material of a defamatory or inflammatory nature is screened before it goes online.

The Indian government's demand comes after new rules were issued by the ministry in April asking internet service providers to delete information posted on websites that officials or private citizens deemed disparaging or harassing.

According to reports the concerned executives of the social media giants expressed their inability to meet Sibal's demand citing the volume of user-generated content coming from India, and that they cannot be responsible for determining what is and isn't defamatory or disparaging


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United States Reacts to Indian Government's Efforts to Censure Online Content | Global Viewpoint