Internet Freedom Seminar in Sweden

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While countries like China and Iran are busy suppressing internet freedom, Sweden supports projects protecting freedom of the internet. The Swedish government and NGO’s have organized a seminar for companies that sell technology to repressive regimes. Our correspondent in Sweden has more.

In Sweden both government and non-government organisations are addressing the issue of how to protect freedom on the internet.

This week a seminar about Human Rights and the internet was held on “The Human Rights Days” in Stockholm.

One participating company “Cisco” has been heavily criticised for selling hardware to the Chinese.

Hardware that was used to by the regime to build up the so called “Golden Shield” which is controlling internet users in China.

[Patrik Fältström, Distinguished Consulting Engineer, Cisco]:
“People talk about what we at Cisco sold and did like four years ago, did we have any discussion in the world at all about freedom of expression on the internet? No. Did we have any kind of discussion in the UN about freedom of expression on the internet. Not much. Now we can actually communicate and talk about it at conferences like this one in Stockholm, where we can discuss more and change. So of course all of us have changed our view and values and how to do things right.”

NGO participant “Supporting Human Rights in China” (SHRIC) has had experience of the censorship in China and says that companies will lose in the long run if they continue to support non-democratic countries.

[Petra Lindberg, Chairman of SHRIC]:
“Our webpage was blocked one hour after we started in 2006…We in the West helped build this “prison”, so its very shameful actions from these companies to make profit out of a totalitarian regime. The normal consumer will be more and more caring about the products that they are buying. If these companies are not taking into consideration the actual consumer, and that we don´t want blood on our hands….of course they will lose, and they will lose big time.”

The power to control the internet is also becoming a hot topic in the EU and the United Nations.

Some countries like China and Russia want a global code of conduct for the internet, a suggestion that the Swedish government dislikes, saying it will restrict freedom on the internet.

NTD News, Stockholm, Sweden

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