“eG8 Forum”: A Smokescreen For Governmental Control Of The Net
Paris, May 17th, 2011 – Next week, Nicolas Sarkozy will be convening the “eG8 forum”, just two days ahead of a G8 summit that will focus on Internet policy. Disguised as a pseudo-consultative process, this staged show could mask the actual will of governments to increase state control over the Internet. Beyond the smokescreen of the “forum”, citizens must hold world leaders accountable for their actions, and denounce the numerous ongoing attempts at undermining our freedoms online.
La Quadrature du Net, along with several artist and citizen organizations, calls on everyone to participate in creative action at http://g8internet.com.
One of the biggest advertising agencies in the world, Publicis, has been appointed by Nicolas Sarkozy to organize the “eG8 forum”, which will gather an impressive cast of business actors to discuss the future of the Internet economy. In fact, Sarkozy has stated for months his intention to use his presidency of the G8 to impose his concept of a “civilized Internet”.
This notion, borrowed from the Chinese government, is in line with Sarkozy's record on Internet policy1. Last year on the international stage, Sarkozy also tried to impose the idea of nation-state control over the network's architecture, playing down the importance of the Internet for freedom of communication and democracy worldwide2.
Recent events worldwide suggest that such an approach is gaining momentum internationally. The Internet black-out in Egypt, the US government's reaction to WikiLeaks3, the ACTA agreement that will be signed during the G8, the adoption of website blocking mechanisms and talks about a “Virtual Schengen border”4 in Europe, or plans for “Internet Kill Switches” are some of the numerous examples of governments trying to take over the Internet and its governance5. Citizens must react by holding their governments accountable and ensure that the Internet remains our most precious tool for improving societies.
“In spite of a harmless-sounding rhetoric, the 'eG8 forum' is a smokescreen to cover the increased control of governments over the Internet. It is a crucial moment in history when citizens have to mobilize to remain in control of an open and universal Internet. Attempts to turn the Net into a tool of repression and control must be opposed through every available mean of expression and creation.” concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.
- 1. In France, Sarkozy has already imposed the cutoff of citizens from the Internet, and censorship of online content. His Minister for the Digital Economy has called for banning WikiLeaks hosting on the French territory, because it didn't fit within this notion of a “civilized Internet”.
- 2. See http://www.laquadrature.net/en/sarkozy-exports-repressive-internet
- 3. See http://www.laquadrature.net/en/wikileaks-and-the-control-of-the-internet
- 4. See http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/11/st07/st07181.en11.pdf, point 8
- 5. Other examples include the new version of the COICA bill and the seizure of domain names by the US, etc.