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France's G8 Focuses on Control and Restrictions to Online Freedoms

Paris, May 20th, 2011 – A detailed analysis of exchanges between the French President and his former Minister of Foreign Affairs on G8 related matters appears in tomorrow's edition of the French magazine Marianne. La Quadrature du Net has had access to sources that confirm the existence of a control-oriented policy, explicitly hostile to the support to the freedom of expression on the Internet, in blatant contrast with the farcical “eG8 forum” smokescreen. Governments must be made accountable for the positions they take on these issues when they speak behind close doors.

The Elysée (French Presidency) does not want to hear anything about cyberdissidents or freedom of expression, it wants “control”.

Frédéric Martel, Marianne, 21-27 May 2011 (about the reasons behind the cancellation of a pre-G8 international conference on freedom of expression online)

This conclusion, based on factual evidence, confirms what we have claimed for months now: despite public statements that try to conceal it and the staged smokescreen of the "eG8 forum", the French presidency of the G8 has constantly tried to prevent any statement that would declare the Internet as a universal space of freedom and an essential tool for democracy, or that would promote adequate protection against online censorship and control.

This policy directly originated from the French presidency, and was imposed on the Foreign Affairs Ministry1. Other G8 governments (and not just Russia) also support control and restriction to free online communications, though they have not be caught in the act in such an obvious manner.

"Citizens and all parties who care for fundamental rights and freedoms must send a clear message to governments: the smokescreen debates among industry representatives at the eG8 next Tuesday will not hide that the real decision will be made in Deauville, during the real G8," declares Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson of La Quadrature du Net.

"All the G8 documents must be made public, as well as each country's position on Internet freedoms or control issues. Freedom of expression and democracy can not be sacrificed for the benefit of some economic or political self-serving interests." concludes Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of the citizen organization.

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