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November 1, 2011

Government’s suppression of Internet freedom not advisable, says UK foreign secretary

The UK and the US challenge China and Russia's call for greater Internet controls by government

By CBR Staff Writer

China and Russia’s call for greater Internet controls has been challenged by the UK and the US, who say that regulation must be agreed for the internet, but not at the price of freedom of expression.

Speaking at the London Conference on Cyberspace, UK foreign secretary William Hague insisted that cyberspace must not be controlled or censored by the government, rebuffing the notion that new international treaties were needed to control cyberspace.

Hague was of the opinion that the biggest threat to the internet is not cybercriminals, but misguided or overreaching government policy.

Adding to this, UK Prime Minister David Cameron appeared to agree that governments must not use cyber security as an excuse for censorship.

Agreeing with the UK point of view, US vice president Joe Biden said what citizens do online should not, as some have suggested, be decreed solely by groups of governments making decisions for them somewhere on high, reported BBC News.

Hague further added that cyberspace should not be subject to separate rules and processes in different regions set by isolated national services, with state-imposed barriers to trade, commerce and the free flow of information and ideas, according to The Guardian.

He added that they reject the view that government suppression of the Internet, phone networks and social media at times of unrest is acceptable.

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Hague said nothing would be more fatal or self-defeating than the heavy hand of state control on the Internet.

He linked global prosperity to the expansion of the internet but warned that online crime was growing exponentially, with more than 6m unique types of new malware were detected by industry in the first quarter of 2011.

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