Britain has rejected calls from China and Russia to give governments the power to control the internet.
It follows a proposal to the UN by Beijing and Moscow, along with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, for a global code of conduct.
London is playing host to a major cyberspace conference. The UK’s foreign secretary criticised states that have tried to jam the web.
“I believe we must aspire to a future of cyber space which is not stifled by government control or censorship, but where innovation and competition flourish and investment and enterprise are rewarded,” William Hague told the conference.
“We know this is not a view shared by all countries but states will find it harder and harder to try to restrict their citizens’ demands for the freedom to express their ideas,” he added.
But the UK itself has been accused of considering curbs on social media. An anti-censorship group said the British prime minister had briefly pondered restrictions during an outbreak of rioting in the summer.
About 60 countries are represented at the conference. A closed session is dealing with the problem of hacking and potential “cyber warfare”.
The head of Britain’s spy agency said beforehand that UK government and industry computer systems faced a “disturbing” number of attacks.