This week saw government leaders, tech bigwigs, and Internet activists converge in Paris for an e-G8 Forum about the future of the Internet. The forum was billed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy as an opportunity for dialogue about the future of the Internet. At times it resembled more of a showdown.
In opening remarks, Sarkozy defended role of government in shaping the Internet.
“It would be contradictory to exclude governments from this huge forum. Nobody could, nor should, forget that these governments are the only legitimate representatives of the will of the people in our democracies. To forget this is to run the risk of democratic chaos and hence anarchy.”
He also expressed concern about intellectual property and monopolies.
Much of the discussion centered around copyright laws. France already has tough regulations when it comes to the sharing of intellectual property online. Under the HADOPI copyright law, French households lose their Internet connection if they receive three accusations of copyright infringement committed on their network.
But JP Barlow, former Grateful Dead lyricist, Wyoming cattle rancher, and a founding member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was skeptical of the need for government to regulate the Internet for intellectual property.
“Many of the things that are being said here, and proposed, and have been done, refuse to recognize that the net is one continuous thing and that if you can control any aspect of it, you can control all of it. You start out with intellectual property and you end up with expression you don’t like. It’s as simple as that.”
A clip of a panel discussion he took part in is here. It’s a fascinating clash of cultures and it raises some interesting questions about the need to protect artistic property on the Internet. It’s also a bit long – the action starts right away and Barlow picks it up again at the 19 minute mark.
Meanwhile, closer to home there is renewed interest in a proposed Canadian law that would allow law enforcement to get more data about individuals from Internet Service Providors. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has promised to enact an extension of Lawful Access legislation during the first hundred days of his new majority government. The Lawful Access extension would allow law enforcement to obtain data from individual’s ISP without warrants.
Jesse Brown, from the Search Engine blog and podcast, has an interesting interview with Michelle Vonn of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association about the proposed law and its potential effects. The link to the podcast is here.