Governments should not crack down on internet freedoms in the name of security, according to prime minister David Cameron.
Cameron, who considered turning off social networks during the recent London riots, cautioned governments about using repressive measures to limit the flow of online information.
"Governments must not use cybersecurity as an excuse for censorship," said Cameron at a government cybersecurity conference in London on Tuesday. "The balance we've got to strike is between freedom and free-for-all."
Internet security is paramount to economic growth, said Cameron, who called on governments to cooperate to combat the international problem of e-crime.
"We have to come together to combat cybercrime," said Cameron. "A cross border problem needs a cross border solution."
Cameron said that online criminals have their own black economy, giving the example of websites selling stolen credit card details "pretty much as you would shop on Amazon".
Earlier at the conference, foreign secretary William Hague had called for openness on the internet.
"I believe we must aspire to a future for cyberspace which is not stifled by government control or censorship, but where innovation and competition flourish, and investment and enterprise are rewarded," said Hague.
US vice president Joe Biden said that threats to internet security were common to every country.
"We all face the threat that our critical infrastructure will become compromised by cyber attack," Biden said via a video link.
Biden added that the internet should be kept secure, open, and interoperable. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," said Biden. "It would be misguided to break with a system that has worked for so long."
The US has been concerned since at least 2006 that China or some other country may decide to create its own internet system, separate from the internet.
Photo credit: Foreign and Commonwealth Office