The message of Ban was read out at the United Nations Information Centre on the eve of Human Rights Day.
In his message, Ban said, "Today, within their existing obligation to respect the rights of freedom to assemble and expression, governments must not block access to internet and various forms of social media as a way to prevent criticism and public debate."
Communications Minister Kapil Sibal recently said the Indian government will not allow social networking sites to host "objectionable" content and will take steps to screen and remove such content.
Ban said social networking sites play an important role in global events.
"Many of the people seeking their legitimate aspirations were linked through social media. Gone are the days when repressive governments could totally control the flow of information," the message added.
New Delhi: Commenting on the Indian government's move to monitor content on social networking sites, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said access to internet and various social media must not be blocked as a way to prevent criticism and public debate.
First Published: Saturday, December 10, 2011, 12:05