Internet chiefs set to address G8 summit

A delegation of internet and media industry chiefs, including Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, will address world leaders at the G8 summit on Thursday, after two days of debate about regulation and innovation in Paris.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, hosted the e-G8 in the French capital on Tuesday and Wednesday in an effort to put technology issues on the agenda of the G8 meeting in Deauville on Thursday.

The e-G8, the first event of its kind, was organised by Publicis Groupe chief executive Maurice Lévy, who will be leading the delegation to Deauville along with Yuri Milner, the Russian entrepreneur and investor who founded Digital Sky Technologies, Stéphane Richard, chief executive of France Telecom, and Hiroshi Mikitani, chief of Rakuten, Japan’s largest online retailer.

The six business leaders will meet the heads of the G8 nations, including Mr Sarkozy, Barack Obama, the US president and David Cameron, the British prime minister, for an hour to give their views on the future of the internet and how governments can help to foster growth and innovation.

Their intention is to summarise the conclusions from the e-G8, which has been attended by more than 1,000 technology entrepreneurs and policymakers, including John Donahoe, chief executive of Ebay, Christine Lagarde, the French finance minister, Andrew Mason, founder of Groupon, and Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp.

In his opening speech, Mr Sarkozy spoke of the need to apply more of the existing laws of nations to the unruly realm of cyberspace, particularly in the area of copyright protection.

But many attendees at the event criticised over-regulation of the web, warning governments against inhibiting innovation.

Mr Levy said he would tell the G8 meeting that the internet had proved to be an engine for broader economic growth, citing research by McKinsey that the internet accounts for around 3.4 per cent of gross domestic product in 13 developed and emerging countries, contributing 21 per cent to total growth in mature nations.

“It is very important that governments are not making any decisions that could impair the ability of the internet to continue to grow,” Mr Levy told the FT. “On the contrary, they should incite or incentivise investors to build the infrastructure which will accelerate that growth.”

He also said that it was important to find the right balance between protecting disruptive start-up companies and more established “incumbents”.

“We have to be not too much protective of the incumbents because there could be a brake on the development of new ventures, but we have to take [into account] the interests of everyone.”

Greater international co-operation to tackle issues such as cybercrime and child protection was also important, he added.

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