France

Oh, Goody–France Is Trying to Civilize the Internet

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Hands off, shorty!

Ars Technica has the details in a story from yesterday:

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." […]

So when Sarkozy took the stage of the e-G8 this morning, suspicions about his true motives were already rampant. And he did little to dispel them. […]

What are you doing, Dave?

"You have a tremendous responsibility that weighs upon you," he told the assembled luminaries, who included people like Google's Eric Schmidt, and he demanded that Internet companies join national governments to jointly exercise the responsibilities. "The responsibility has to be shared between you and us." […]

A few samples provide the overall flavor:

* "Although technology in and of itself is neutral, and must remain so, the way that Internet is used is not neutral."
* "The universe that you represent is not a parallel universe which is free of rules of law or ethics or of any of the fundamental principles that must govern and do govern the social lives of our democratic states."
* "Don't forget that behind the anonymous Internet user there is a real citizen living in a real society and a real culture and a nation to which he or she belongs, with its laws and its rules."
* Artists "must not be despoiled of the fruit of their talent. That doesn't simply ruin them, but far worse, it enslaves them."
* Governments "wish to enter into dialogue with you so that we can defend one another's interests."
* "[I am] calling for collective responsibility."
* "What I am calling for is for everyone to be reasonable."

Insert Minitel joke here. Link via Kinsey Holley's Twitter feed.