The Netherlands and France are taking the initiative to develop an international code of conduct for the freedom of traffic on the Internet, the Dutch foreign ministry has said in a statement.
The foreign ministers from both countries met
in Rotterdam and expressed concern over a recent rise in Internet censorship.
A pilot group is due to meet in the coming weeks in Paris, and will bring together governments, rights organisations and web-based businesses all working to protect
freedom on the Internet, the French foreign ministry said.
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.