Amnesty International has called on the internet industry to do more to fight censorship by governments around the world.
Amnesty’s UK campaigns director Tim Hancock told the Internet Services Providers' Association that the internet had revolutionised free speech and given a voice to millions. But he added: “We must be on our guard against those who want to limit access to information and take that free speech away.
“The Internet is the new front in the battle between those who want to speak out, and those who want to stop them,” he said.
Hancock told the internet service providers: “Businesses whose operations impact on freedom of speech bear no less responsibility for upholding human rights standards than other industries. Web users and service providers alike have a responsibility to keep alive the things that have made the internet great – its democracy, its freedom and the way it gives people access to knowledge and the opportunity to participate and be heard.”
Amnesty and other non-governmental organisations are involved in discussions with Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to establish principles for safeguarding human rights on the internet. The companies have been criticised by human rights campaigners after giving in to pressure from the Chinese government to censor search results for users in China.