Web leaders plead for cyberspace freedom

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, and Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, were among six internet and media companies to address G8 leaders on Thursday after French President Nicolas Sarkozy put the governance of cyberspace on to the Deauville agenda.

The two web leaders urged the G8 not to inhibit the internet’s creative dynamism and economic growth. They were flanked by the chiefs of France Telecom, Japanese online retailer Rakuten, Russian investor Digital Sky Technologies and Publicis, the advertising group.

The technology delegation – the first of its kind – followed the e-G8 Forum in Paris, where more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, investors and policymakers gathered to debate issues such as online privacy and intellectual property protection.

Mr Sarkozy warned against the “anarchy” of the web in e-G8’s opening speech, saying that the global network should not be exempt from national laws, which prompted Mr Schmidt to respond: “We will move a lot more quickly than one of the governments, let alone all of the governments.”

Jean-Bernard Levy, chief executive of French media-telecoms group Vivendi, also complained about “hyper regulation” in Europe.

During other sessions at the e-G8 Forum, Rupert Murdoch signalled News Corp’s growing interest in the education technology market, calling classrooms the “last holdout from the digital revolution”.

Sean Parker, co-founder of file-sharing site Napster and now a backer of digital music service Spotify, surprised attendees by saying it was time to invest in traditional music labels again, as subscription services change consumption patterns.

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