France and the Netherlands have called for international guidelines to prevent private firms from exporting high-tech
equipment that could be used for Internet censorship.
Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said there must be concrete measures taken to ensure that the Internet remains a universal forum and singled out Iran for blocking access to anti-government websites.
We must support cyber-dissidents in the same way that we supported political dissidents, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told a meeting in Paris attended by some 20 countries including the United States and Japan.
France and the Netherlands plan to hold a ministerial-level meeting in October to flesh out the guidelines for firms who sell technology that could be used to suppress democracy.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has accused German engineering giant Siemens and Finnish telecoms firm Nokia of supplying Iran with technology to help it suppress dissent. The firms have denied the charges.
Jean-Francois Julliard, from the media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF, accused French phone equipment provider Alcatel of selling bugging equipment to Myanmar. He also singled out networking giant Cisco for allegedly selling encoders to China.