In 2010, US allegedly forced amazon.com and paypal.com to snap ties with WikiLeaks as Assange had begun revealing US diplomatic cables
BANGALORE, INDIA: In 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called upon the world to respect Internet freedom when the US Justice Department targeted WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.
“Our commitment to Internet freedom is a commitment to the rights of people, and we are matching that with our actions,” Clinton had stated in her speech. Fast track to August 22, 2012. US state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland had this to say on India blocking some websites for allegedly hosting an inflammatory campaign against natives of Northeastern India.
"On the larger question of Internet freedom, you know where we are on that issue, and we are always on the side of full freedom of the Internet," she said.
But when she was probed on the issue of WikiLeaks, Nuland snapped: "WikiLeaks didn't have to do with freedom of the Internet. It had to do with the compromise of US government classified information."
As has been famously said by critics, the US champions free flow of information only till it is in their favor.
In 2010, after being battered by hacking activities, MasterCard.com, Amazon.com, Post Finace and Paypal.com snapped their ties with WikiLeaks allegedly under the US government pressure. The US allegedly prevented them from hosting WikiLeaks and halted the flow of donations.
All that because Assange had revealed some information which the US couldn't digest. WikiLeaks rose to international attention when, on 28 November2010, it began to reveal US diplomatic cables. The United States Department of Justice is still investigating whether Assange can be prosecuted.
When the US was trying to remove some online material permanently after the Assange revelation, Assange had warned that if the West failed to reverse its course on censorship, it would lose all the ideals it once stood for.
Knowing well the power of social media which can at times be dangerous, India's decision to block some websites is being justified. What goes up on social network sites has the potential to turn anything in favour or against the tide. Bangalore-based media analyst Ramachandra Gopi says: "I agree with the government. Expanding social media horizon is welcome, but none has the right to spread baseless rumours and endanger one's safety."
When asked if the US would urge US-based companies, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter to comply with Indian government's directive to go after the sources of erroneous information related, Nuland said she could not speak "of the conversation that those companies may or may not behaving with the Indian government. We maintain open lines to our own companies in India, as we do around the world, and we are obviously open to consultation with them if they need it from us," she said.
Her statement was contrary to the report titled “Enemies ofthe Internet” by the international watchdog group Reporters Without Borders, which states that Internet is under unprecedented pressure from the world’s autocratic regimes.
The study stated that ''Freedom of expression on the Internet, is no longer the sole preserve of dissidents, geeks and censors. Diplomats have followed in their wake.'' Internet freedom has become a foreign policy issue.
Has it really? Do let us know