Washington: Close on the heels of Twitter announcing that it can now selectively censor tweets on a country-by-country basis, the US has said it will wait and watch how the micro-blogging site implements its new policy.
"We are strongly committed to protecting fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, association online", State Department spokesperson Victoria Nualand said.
"As the Secretary (of State) said in her Internet freedom speech, the choices that private companies make have an impact on how information flows or doesn't flow on the Internet and mobile networks. They also have an impact on what governments can and can't do and on people," she said.
She said smart companies need to develop broad principles that guide their actions.
"I think in the Twitter case, what we see here is a company making very clear what its policies are going to be in these circumstances where the choice is operate not at all or operate in a constrained way," Nuland said.
"So from that perspective, being honest about what you're up to is in keeping with these standards. But until we see how they are implemented and how it influences content, we obviously can't evaluate whether this is, you know, a good thing or not for Internet freedom," she said.
Nuland said there are a number of examples of companies that are not as up-front about what they do.
"And, you know, at least this way, Twitter users can know what is up. But again, until we see how this is implemented, I don't think we're in a position to evaluate," she said.
Twitter, she pointed out, has stated publicly that it is committed to abiding by fundamental freedoms of expression and association and assembly, and to being transparent.
The United States, Nuland asserted, would only set out broader principles, and not dictate to companies.
"We're not going to dictate to companies. We're setting out the general principles."
There are many companies out there that make these decisions without being transparent, either to their users or to the world, she said.
"Twitter's been up-front about what they're doing. I think we have to see how it works," Nuland said.
First Published: Saturday, January 28, 2012, 14:47