updated 04:55 pm EDT, Tue May 24, 2011
e-G8 summit works against French president
The e-G8 summit in Paris brought pressure on French president Nicolas Sarkozy for his comments on technology. Having argued for "minimum rules" that would have prevented sites like WikiLeaks from getting hosting and previously backed France's infamous three-strikes law, he was followed by a panel that rejected his calls for tighter regulation. Google executive president recapped a previous stance and said he was looking for a "technological solution" to make both sides happy before turning to laws, noting it was virtually impossible for government to understand change as quickly.
"We will move a lot more quickly than one of the governments, let alone all of the governments," he said.
He was also supported by seemingly contradictory backers Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy and Electronic Frontier Foundation creator John Perry Barlow, both of whom distrusted Sarkozy's approach. Barlow answered a past quote of Sarkozy's that the Internet was a "new territory to conquer" with a determination not to let the French president dictate regulation. "I am in Paris to stop him," Barlow said.
Sarkozy has been losing popularity in France outside of technology but has drawn mounting criticism for an approach that protest groups like the Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus have said is increasingly in favor of corporate interests and not the public. They pointed out that forums like the e-G8 were primarily under the control of "industry and government actors" and believed there was a link between donations and invitations.
In the past, many have pointed to Sarkozy's marriage to singer Carla Bruni as a conflict of interest, suggesting that the president was trying to please his wife by cracking down on those pirating her work.
Author and frequent openness advocate Cory Doctorow has accused Sarkozy and the French government of conducting a "whitewash." He was personally given an invitation, contradicting claims of an industry-only affair, but turned it down because he saw it as an attempt to rubber-stamp Sarkozy's policies. [image via European People's Party]