Opinion, Technology

Opinion: The New Sheriff in Town

Most ludicrous, offensive and insulting sight of last month: President Sarkozy posturing at the E-G8 Internet conference, standing up to tell the rest of us how France is going to lead the G8 to regulate the Internet for the whole world.

You could be kind and regard it as a pre-emptive move to out-flank the US government imposing its’ regulation on us (Obama didn’t even want it on the agenda). Or you could view it as a short egotist playing politics on the World stage for domestic consumption; using the G8 as a box to stand on to make himself look like a statesman, all the while pandering to a pro-business corporate lobby under the guise of protecting us all from pirates, terrorists and porn…

True, this was a gathering of technocrats, although most of them felt they were there to rubber-stamp Sarkozy’s pre-written statement for this dog-and-pony show.

How dare Sarkozy claim to regulate on behalf of 2.5 billion people in the developing world.

I have long suspected that the Western governments would eventually put an end to the ‘Wild West’ of the internet. Sarkozy used the phrase ‘the civilised internet’ (the same phrase as the Chinese government oddly enough). The French just can’t get over a century of colonial power that is now past, expecting to park the Charles de Gaul aircraft carrier on the Internet the same as they parked off the coast of Libya in the cause of World Peace.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the legislatures and judiciary of the Western governments actually understood how the Internet works now. They are clueless as to where it will be by the end of the current legislative session, much less in five or ten years time.

Best moments of the e-G8 conference:
John Perry Barlow derailing a panel discussion on intellectual property with members of the content industry

Jeff Jarvis inviting the un-prepared Sarkozy to take the Hippocratic oath to “do no harm” to the Internet.

Typical of the politicians’ inability to see harm beyond enforcement of child porn, anti-terrorism and copyright protection, Sarkozy blathered for a while before getting back on message with some empty flattery of the gathered experts.

We see through you, M. le Presidente. RC

About Robin Catling

Writer; performer; project manager; sports coach; all-round eccentric.


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