THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Fourteen countries, including the United States, vowed Friday to work to promote online freedoms, with an emphasis on helping bloggers who operate under oppressive regimes.
The countries, which also include Britain, France, and Canada, endorsed a statement at the end of a two-day conference in the Netherlands, saying their goals included preventing "the misappropriation of technologies for repressive ends, inappropriate requests for personal data for political purposes, and illegitimate blocking of content."
The conference was inspired in part by the bloggers and social-network users who have played a key role in fomenting the revolutions of the Arab Spring.
Other countries signing off on the statement represented other parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, but there were none from the Middle East or Arab world.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton opened the Freedom Online conference Thursday with a direct call for companies not to sell surveillance tools to authoritarian regimes.
In an emotional speech Friday, Syrian blogger Amjad Baiazy said his country's surveillance system was built by Western companies. He said that he was arrested and tortured in May for expressing his opinion online and that a friend was arrested last week for a Facebook posting. He called on governments to fight for "security of citizens, not corporations or governments."
Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said the conference had created "a coalition that will share information online and offline on freedom of expression, a coalition that will support individuals particularly operating in oppressive environments in the exercise of human rights . . . through the Internet."