French president Nicolas Sarkozy told attendees of the first-ever e-G8 forum in Paris Tuesday that the Internet needs more regulation. All but saying the "anything goes" character of the Internet as its today is unsustainable, he called for governments to regulate the virtual world much like they do the real one.
"The world you represent is not a parallel universe where legal and moral rules and more generally all the basic rules that govern society in democratic countries do not apply," the BBC quoted Sarkozy as saying at the event.
Should We Follow The French?
France has some of the most strictest laws on the books when it comes to Internet piracy. Its so-called "three strikes" law gives file sharers three opportunities to clean up their act before facing complete disconnection from the Web.
The United States is considering more stricter piracy laws itself--in the form of the PROTECT IP Act--but the focus seems to be on cutting off distribution of pirated content by compelling websites to remove links to such content, rather than punishing the downloaders themselves.
Sarkozy did hail the Internet for its role in recent uprisings across the Middle East and elsewhere, but noted that governments had a responsibility to regulate the Internet to prevent "democratic chaos," as they were "the only legitimate representatives of the will of the people."
Will The Government Go Too Far?
While he seemed to balance his words to ensure that critics do not get the wrong impression that he's promoting some type of "Big Brother is watching you" structure, his position certainly seems a bit open ended. Who's to say a democratic government wouldn't attempt to quell free speech over something it doesn't like? It's already happened.
Some commentators seem to agree. On Twitter, media commentator and journalism professor Jeff Jarvis criticized the overall tone of the conference. "At #eG8, government acts as if it should protect us from the Internet," he mused. "Instead, the Internet needs protection from government."