Internet bosses woo world leaders at 'e-G8'

The world's most powerful Internet and media barons gather in Paris on Tuesday in a show of strength to leaders at the G8 summit, amid international rows over online access, copyright and regulation.

Top executives from online giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft will tout the economic potential of the Internet, which their host, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, has put on the agenda of the G8 summit two days later.

After Tuesday and Wednesday's "e-G8" bash, some of the biggest names will then meet with G8 leaders at the summit in Deauville, northwestern France, on May 26 and 27, a French presidential official said.

"For the first time, voices of companies, thinkers and major players who build the Internet will be heard at the highest levels of world politics," said a statement by PR firm Publicis, commissioned by Sarkozy to organise the e-G8.

With blogs and Tweets oiling the wheels of revolutions in some countries and scans and downloads sparking trade disputes in others, the stakes are high for leaders seeking to promote and profit from the web but also to regulate it.

The e-G8 "aims to enlighten and to nourish the discussions of the heads of G8 nations with the vision of the web actors regarding the Internet's importance and impact on society and the economy," the organisers said.

But some bloggers and activists saw the e-G8 not as a gesture of openness but a bid to tighten governments' grip on the Internet for power and money.

"Under the guise of a pseudo-consultative process, it is the governments' desire to control the Internet a bit more that is becoming apparent," French Internet freedom campaign group Le Quadrature du Net wrote on its website.

"Behind the smokescreen of this 'forum', citizens must hold world leaders more responsible for their actions and denounce the many continual breaches of their liberties."

Authorities in several countries have clashed with Google, the world's biggest Internet search engine, notably in China, where the company accused the government of hacking dissidents' email accounts.

France is expected to propose a statement in Deauville on "respecting freedoms" on the web, a French official said - a jab at censorship in rising world powers such as China.

But, while acknowledging the Internet's power as a force for freedom elsewhere, western countries' differ on how to harness or curb it on their own doorsteps.

Media freedom campaigners including Reporters Without Borders have criticised moves by some European countries, such as a recent French law making web users liable to prosecution if they illegally download films and music.

German and Italian regulators have placed restrictions on Google's Street View, over privacy concerns for people photographed in its online street maps.

In France, several publishers accuse Google of scanning their copyrighted books for its online library, although one major publisher, Hachette Livre, has struck a deal with the Californian company.

Sarkozy has called for "a civilised Internet" and has proposed another gathering, on online copyright protection, ahead of the November meeting of leaders of the Group of 20, a bigger club of rich and emerging powers.

This drive may worry the United States, sensitive to talk of regulation.

The e-G8 guests include the executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt; the founder of social site Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg; and Jeff Bezos, founder of online retail giant Amazon. Microsoft will also be represented.

Also attending is Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire head of the global media empire News Corporation, which includes Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, and dubbed by Forbes magazine "the man who owns the news."

Murdoch's recent decision to start charging for content on news websites rattled the media world, where companies are struggling to work out how to make money from journalism in the Internet age.

France touted the meetings of the e-G8 and the G8 as an unprecedented meeting of the online and political worlds.

"The wish of the heads of state is to hear the world's top Internet figures talk about their vision for the future so that they can incorporate it in their own decisions," a French presidential official told reporters.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Ashdown Group: C# Developer

    £30000 - £36000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: C# Developer A highly s...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Test Engineer

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A market leading software...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...