Politicians, groups speak out on Egyptian Internet blocking

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on the Egyptian government to restore communications in the country after reports that officials there had ordered Internet service providers to shut down outside traffic in response to ongoing protests.

"We support the universal human rights of the Egyptian people, including the right to freedom of expression, of association and of assembly," Clinton said in a statement Friday. "We urge the Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful protests and to reverse the unprecedented steps it has taken to cut off communications. These protests underscore that there are deep grievances within Egyptian society, and the Egyptian Government needs to understand that violence will not make these grievances go away."

Clinton said President Barack Obama's administration is "deeply concerned" about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces. "We call on the Egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain the security forces," she said. "At the same time, protestors should also refrain from violence and express themselves peacefully."

The Egyptian government should engage with the country's residents to implement "needed economic, political, and social reforms," Clinton added.

Other politicians, as well as technology-focused groups, also raised concerns about the actions of the Egyptian government.

Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called Egypt an important U.S. ally, but said the government crackdown was "cause for grave concern." He called on the Egyptian government to immediately restore access to communications and social-networking sites.