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Amnesty International is repeating its call for companies and governments to take action to protect human rights online.

Ahead of this week's Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Rio de Janiero, the pressure group said restrictions on freedom of expression are increasing around the world.

It is calling for governments to stop prosecuting people for speaking out online and to release prisoners locked up for expressing political opinions on the web. It wants a collective commitment to online freedom of expression.

The group is calling for technology companies to act in support of this freedom and not work with repressive governments to help human rights abuses.

Nick Dearden, one of Amnesty's delegates to IGF in Rio, said: "In the 12 months since the last IGF we've witnessed the crisis in Burma, where the internet was used to get images and information out of the country and to mobilise people all over the world to take action. On the other hand we have also monitored the increase in censorship, filtering, and blocking of websites."

Amnesty said China is holding about 60 people in prison for online dissent. Eight people have been imprisoned in Syria after using the internet to call for political reforms. Arrests have also been reported in Thailand and Vietnam.

Last year, Amnesty put pressure on technology companies to make a public commitment to freedom online.

It asked companies like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! to be transparent about how they censor or restrict access to information online and to use the courts to fight requests for information on individuals.

More from Amnesty here. ®

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