May 24 - The stars of the technology world are gathering in Paris for a two-day forum hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, where talks are focusing on fueling economic growth. Matt Cowan reports.
In his opening address at the e-G8 technology forum in Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy made clear that he thinks governments have a role to play in fostering innovation and the digital economy but that online businesses could not expect operate in regulatory vacuum. SOUNDBITE: Nicolas Sarkozy, French President saying (English): "The universe that you represent is not a parallel one, free of the rule of law, free of moral and more generally more fundamental principles that govern social life in democratic countries. From the moment that internet is part of the life of the majority of people, it would be a contradiction to keep governments away from this immense forum." The gathering of tech elite including Googles Jimmy Wales, Amazons Jeff Bezos and Wikipedias Jimmy Wales is taking place over two days in Paris, ahead of a G8 summit. The chairman of the e-G8 forum Maurice Levy of Publicis Groupe says the views expressed here will be synthesized for the political gathering in the resort town of Deauville later this week. SOUNDBITE: Maurice Levy, e-G8 Chairman saying (English):" Obviously, there is one aspect which is very important, which is how the internet and digital can accelerate growth. It is something which is very important. However, some participants are concerned with what they see as an agenda that aims to clamp down on the internets freewheeling culture. John Perry Barlow is a cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation which works to safeguard civil liberties on the net. SOUNDBITE: John Perry Barlow co-founder of Electronic Frontier Foundation, saying (English): "We've been trying to civilise cyberspace for 22 years and I think we may have different notions of what that means. We think civilisation implies liberty, implies openness, implies to the extent possible minimal regulation and I would say that's not what this conference is about. (Why are you here) I think it's a good idea to be present when movement is afoot to take away some of the values that you cherish." One delegate raised the point that Skype recently bought by Microsoft - was started by entrepreneurs who previously ran a peer to peer file sharing service. And that YouTube now owned by Google - had a history of being hit by lawsuits for violating copyright laws. The key question that's emerging is - can governments fuel digital innovation and growth without harming the engine that drives it. Matt Cowan, Reuters in Paris