Internet bosses tell G8 to ensure world's access to Internet
Internet prime movers including the bosses of Facebook and Google put their proposals to the G8 summit of world leaders on Thursday, calling for governments to guarantee Internet access.
Some of the biggest online names, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg who swapped his usual teenager's look for a suit and tie, came to the French resort of Deauville to present the conclusions of their parallel e-G8 talks.
"This has been almost unanimous that we should provide free, open access to Internet to everyone on Earth," said Maurice Levy of the Publicis advertising group, who hosted Wednesday's e-G8 meeting in Paris.
"Yes we should protect intellectual property, no we shouldn't create a situation by which Internet cannot grow and cannot develop," Levy said, warning that failure to provide high-speed Internet could "create a collapse of the system."
"There is a serious need to invest heavily on high-speed ADSL and other high speed systems," Levy said, adding that the summit of Internet leaders would become an annual event.
Google boss Eric Schmidt slammed regimes such as in Iran and Syria for cutting Internet access in the face of pro-democracy protests, describing it as a "terrible mistake".
Zuckerberg said: "I'm happy to play any role they ask me to play... Internet is really a powerful force giving people a voice."
A draft G8 final declaration seen by AFP calls for governments to take a role in "creating an environment in which the Internet can flourish in a balanced manner".
The proposed final statement says the private sector must remain the driving force behind the online economy and emphasises the need for openness, transparency and free expression.
© 2011 AFP