Summit asks for Internet freedom

The first UN-hosted summit on the Internet ended in Athens yesterday with the promise of breakthrough technologies accelerating online access in developing countries and concerns of growing government interference globally. Rights group Amnesty International urged governments to stop suppressing freedom of expression on the Internet and IT firms to cease supplying repressive regimes with the means to censor. «People have the right to seek and receive information and to express their peaceful beliefs online without fear or interference,» said Amnesty’s program director Dan McQuillan, AFP reported. «I call on governments to stop the unwarranted restriction of freedom on the Internet, and on companies to stop helping them do it,» he said. Amnesty International singled out China, Vietnam, Iran and Syria. The summit was also dominated by ongoing disputes about efforts to make the Internet appeal to non-English speakers and concerns about how the global network is run. This week’s gathering grew out of last year’s UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia. The United States refused to cede control of the computers crucial for directing Internet traffic and agreed instead to set up a multinational forum to discuss other matters such as cooperation in fighting cybercrime.

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