France attempts to "civilize" the Internet

Internet fights back

Nate Anderson

For some time, French Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy has talked about his dream of a “civilized” Internet, but this dream has long been a nightmare for those who worry that “civilization” is really a code for “regulations favorable to big business and the national security state.” To make his vision a reality, Sarkozy helped to create this week’s e-G8 meeting currently underway in the Tuileries Gardens next door to the Louvre—and the critics are fuming.

"I was invited to the e-G8 and declined," said author and activist Cory Doctorow recently. "I believe it’s a whitewash, an attempt to get people who care about the Internet to lend credibility to regimes that are in all-out war with the free, open ‘Net. On the other hand, I now have a dandy handwriting sample from Sarkozy should I ever need to establish a graphological baseline for narcissistic sociopathy."

Internet governance and civil society groups issued a statement charging that the "e-G8 Forum is organized by large Industry with access given only to industry and government actors… Big businesses already have a disproportionately large influence on public policy processes. For governments to sanction a dedicated meeting with top G8 leaders and officials to plan the global agenda for Internet related policies is inappropriate."

The French Internet activists at La Quadrature du Net have been even tougher. Governments "have entered an alliance with some of these companies, united in the fear of the new capabilities afforded to individuals by the Internet and computers," said spokesperson Jérémie Zimmermann.

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