G8 taking over the Internet

For the first time and on the occasion of the Summit of Heads of State and Government or as known for Group of Eight (G8) (a “ritual” created by France in 1975 for the governments of 8 major economies (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, USA, Canada and Russia) –that will be held in Deauville, France on 26th -27th May 2011; an internet summit or referred to “e-G8 Forum” is wrapping up today in Paris. At least 600 people attended.

The e-G8 taking place 24th -25th May brought together CEOs and the leaders of the Internet’s most leading companies and organizations whom over these two days, worked together before sharing their proposals with the Heads of State and Government in Deauville. (Below you may find agenda of the forum).

Video overview of the forum: Debates, meetings, talks, check out the film illustrating the highlights of the first day at the e-G8 forum.

It’s reported that Eric Schmidt of Google, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia are among the key speakers today.

Surprisingly, until today I came by very little press coverage for an event of this magnitude, and that’s the reason why I’m compiling my findings in this humble post.

What is crucial here is that this year, and for the first time ever, the Internet’s role in society and the economy will be formally on the G8 Summit agenda.

The program of the summit included discussions on economic growth, social issues such as human rights, intellectual property protection and privacy, and the Internet of the future.

The Internet is the place where we meet, communicate, create, learn, share and organize. Yet, such event (e-G8) tells us that we came by a turning point in early web history. Governments and top web companies are now discussing if internet to become a primarily tool for improving our societies, knowledge and culture, or a totalitarian tool of surveillance and control.

We need to civilize this savage continent my old Milou!

What bugs here is knowing that President Nicolas Sarkozy, along with the other G8 leaders, have generally supported policies which are not always in the best-interests of Internet users certainly around issues of privacy, freedom of speech, taxation, and net neutrality.

To this effect, a collective of associations defending internet rights and networks neutrality has issued a call against French president “e-G8 forum”.

Among the organizations calls the FCForum, the website BoingBoing, the Free Art and Technology LabTelecomix and the French “la quadrature du Net”

Nova Spivack , one of the attendee of the e-G8 raised a number of concerns around this unprecedented summit saying: “Will this event result in helping Big Corporations and Big Governments be even Bigger, or will it also provide a voice to the people, the citizens of the Web? Will the delegates be thinking about themselves and their companies, or will they try to bring larger issues to the table?”

Fabrice Epelboin former editor of ReadWriteWeb France says: “Sarkozy actually has a very bad track record in terms of internet freedom. The Hadopi law (three strike and you're out) was initially supposed to fight against copyright infringements by monitoring P2P sharing and looking at IPs, it turns out to move toward putting a monitoring device in citizen's DSL modem.

The Hadopi law, also passed under his legislation, basically gives the right for the interior minister to censor whatever he wants, without any warrant of any kind, using a state secret blacklist, without any sort of control or authority monitoring the process. In Iran, this is called censorship, in France, it’s about fighting pedophiles, but the list of content to fight is getting larger and more secret.

Last summer, the sec. of state for the internet issued a report about net neutrality who was basically a cut and paste exercise aggregating most of the lobbies anti net neutrality arguments.

Today, the government is looking to install a ‘civilized internet’, e.g. heavily filtered and monitored internet.

In September, Reporter Without Border issued its latest report on internet freedom, and for the first time, France entered the ‘under surveillance’ list, a very severe warning for a democracy.”

There have been several calls for creative actions to take place on Friday May 13th. (Images used in this post are from the said campaign).

Video: Call for creative action – Friday, 13 May 2011

Addressing concerns that flooded the event, President Sarkozy said that states were subject to the will of their citizens who were currently engaged in a revolution, empowered by the internet.

“The global revolution that you incarnate is a peaceful one. It did not emerge on battlefields but on university campuses,” he said.

“However, Iain Mackenzie- Technology reporter, BBC News, Paris reported that President Sarkozy claimed that countries could not remain neutral and allow completely unchecked internet use.”

“The world you represent is not a parallel universe where legal and moral rules and more generally all the basic rules that govern society in democratic countries do not apply.”

According to Reporters Without Borders “Civil society representatives gave an unofficial news conference this morning (May 25th) in one of the conference rooms of the “e-G8” forum on Internet issues in Paris, voicing their opposition to attempts to regulate the Internet and criticizing the lack of representativeness of most of those who were invited by the French government to take part in the forum.”

Jarvis said he was “scared by those who are scared of the Internet.” Julliard said he was “extremely disappointed” by the course taken by discussions during the e-G8 forum, including the lack of a strongly-worded message to governments that target journalists, bloggers and cyber-dissidents.

Unknown says “As a host of the G8, France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy wants to step up centralized control over the Internet. He has convened world leaders to a summit aimed at working towards a “civilized Internet”, a concept he borrowed from the Chinese government. By creating fears such as “cyber-terrorism”, their objective is to generalize rules of exception in order to establish censorship and control, thereby undermining free speech and other civil liberties.”


(Credit: Nova Spivack)

e-G8 Forum
The Internet: Accelerating Growth

17h00 – 21h00: Welcome and Registration -Tuileries Gardens


08h30 – 10h00: Registration, coffee and networking

10h00 – 10h10: Welcome & Introduction, Maurice Lévy, Chairman & CEO, Publicis Groupe, Chairman of the e-G8 Forum

10h10 – 10h45: Opening Keynote
Monsieur Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France, current President of the G8
10h45 – 11h00: Q&A with President Sarkozy

11h00 – 12h00: Plenary I
“Silicon Power: The Internet & Economic Growth”
Information Technology and the entire digital ecosystem have been a powerful creator of jobs and wealth around the world. How to ensure this continues?

12h00 – 13h00: Plenary II
“Rewiring Societies” The Internet has empowered people around the world, most recently and most spectacularly in the Middle East, but also in many other instances. Are we seeing the emergence of a new society: more open, transparent and free?

13h00 – 14h30: Lunch

14h30 – 15h30: Plenary III
“Future of the Net: What Next?”
Broadband, booming data, video, the explosion of cloud computing, storage: the financing of infrastructures, how value is created and shared

15h30 – 16h00: Coffee break and networking
16h00 – 17h00: Content and intellectual property
17h00 – 18h00: Conversations with legendary figures of the Internet
20h00 – 22h30: e-G8 Dinner at the Louvre Museum and private visits of the museum

08h00 – 09h00: Continental breakfast and networking

09h00 – 10:00: Plenary I
“Innovation and Financing”
The impact of new technologies on strategies for innovation and R&D What are the best strategies for creating innovative ecosystems and clusters?

10h00 – 10h30: Coffee break and networking

10h30 – 12h00: Parallel Workshops I
1. Fostering Innovation and Education
2. The impact of the digital revolution on small and medium-sized businesses
3. Entertainment and Culture in the Digital Age

12h00 – 13h00: Parallel Workshops II
1. Mobile Internet: how mobile is transforming commerce
2. Protection of privacy and the youth
3. The Net and the Media: the future of media in a digital society

13h00 – 14h30: Lunch

14h30 – 15h30: Parallel Workshops III
1. In the Social Media Age: the impact on society
2. Creativity and entrepreneurship on the Net
3. Trust: Creating and maintaining trust in a world of booming data

15h30 – 16h00: Coffee break

16h00 – 17h30: Plenary II
“Start-up Nations: the best and the brightest start-ups”

17h30 – 18h30: Closing Plenary of the e-G8 Forum


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