We’ve been a bit harsh on the French lately. A bit too harsh. And I guess we should apologize for our harshness. Nous sommes désolés! You see, contrary to their questionable actions France doesn’t really hate the Internet and the freedoms that come with it. Quite the contrary! On the last episode of the podcast, Episode 31.5, we discussed the e-G8 conference French president Nicolas Sarkozy was organizing. Pretty much Sarkozy invited a whole bunch of powerful figures in the tech industry such as Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, and more to discuss ways to “civilize” the internet by cracking down on anonymity and making strange bedfellows of out internet corporations and governments. At least that’s what we were told prior to the meeting, and critics all over the media were not happy about it. However, the Financial Times managed to feast its eyes on a confidential document from the e-G8 conference that sheds a different light on Sarkozy’s meeting with the Internet’s most powerful people.
In fact, the whole crackdown on the uncivilized internet was not the topic of conversation at the event. The secret memo reveals that top G8 leaders were all for freedom of speech on the Internet as well as a very hands-off approach to government regulation of the web. Quite a different tune from what we were originally told, right? The document details responses from people like Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Maurice Levy, and dozens more people in attendance at Sarkozy’s conference. Instead of a lot of sacré bleu being thrown around in the room, the exchanges between everyone were quite productive and friendly. Here’s a quick list of important viewpoints everyone shared:
- The internet is part of the “good guys” as it helped topple oppressive regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.
- The world needs to get its act together and push for faster fiber optic deployment.
- Censorship of any form on the internet was highly opposed by everyone.
- Governments need to find a better way to work together when it comes to cyber security and “open data” principles.
- Copyright laws need an overhaul, but not a complete one. Something on the lines of “format-shifting” needs to be implemented.
- On privacy, leaders joined Zuckerberg’s side and agreed that personal information on the web and social networks should not be controlled by government regulation.
It’s refreshing to know that such things were discussed and agreed upon and hopefully it gives a glimmer of hope as to where the future of the internet lies on the global playing field. The internet is a rapidly changing entity and one can only hope that there’s an e-G8 summit every year to discuss issues and concerns that become apparent as time goes on. Perhaps with governments and tech leaders working together to evolve the internet rather than to stifle it will bring forward new confidence and innovation, something that certain groups and corporations (*cough*RIAA*cough*Telecoms*cough*) have been hell bent on controlling. So thank you, Mr. Sarkozy, for bringing these people together to discuss the future of a better internet, without the draconian overtones we all thought you were originally going to instill.