Keeping people off web unacceptable challenge to free speech

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Kolkata, Dec 15 (IANS) Keeping people off the web would create “unacceptable” challenges to freedom of speech and commerce, a US diplomat said here on Thursday, underlining the need for every country to develop a culture of cyber security.

“In Bangladesh, when people talk about cyber security they are often talking about how to prevent things from getting onto the web,” US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat said.

“Keeping people off the web would create, major and, I would argue, unacceptable challenges to freedom of speech and freedom of commerce. We are increasingly relying on e-commerce,” Bernicat said.

“It is incumbent upon every country in the world, and certainly the South Asian nations, to find a way to develop and instil a culture of cyber security that comes down to every individual,” Bernicat told the Indo-Asia Connectivity for Shared Prosperity conference here.

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The envoy also clarified that open borders did not necessarily create more insecurity.

“We have seen even terrorists have learned to outsource their activities and they are doing it through internet. So, open borders don’t create more insecurity.

“If you have good anti-money-laundering laws and regulatory regime, then, we sovereign nations, working together can stop all forms of transnational crime but the most challenging in this day and age is cyber security,” the diplomat said.

Adding to the discourse, US Ambassador to Nepal Alaina B. Teplitz said it was necessary to strike a balance in enabling the good parts of the internet.

“The fine line and balance to be looking for is how to enable the good parts of the internet and the ability for citizens to communicate, access services and obtain information….

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“For the media to be able to present information and to engage in dialogue and looking very carefully at the regulatory efforts that are applied to the internet… to the online services or digital services to evaluate for unintended consequences,” Teplitz said.

US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said that, across Asia, it was really hard to have true connectivity in the digital area without adequate cyber security.

“The threats that we are facing in the cyber domain come from individuals who are maybe trying to steal information for their personal gain, they are coming from criminal networks that are exploiting people,

“They are coming from states that are looking to steal corporate secrets or steal other state’s secrets and we really have to have adequate defences on that,” Verma said.

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