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Sarko to Schmidt & co: 'You can't escape' net regulation

G8 presidency gives France platform to sound off on net rules

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French president Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country has the G8 presidency this year, called for greater regulation of the internet today.

Speaking at the e-G8 Forum in Paris, Sarkozy said more rules to police the net were needed to, among other things, help protect copyright law and prevent children from seeing harmful material online.

"Now that the internet is an integral part of most people's lives, it would be contradictory to exclude governments," he said, according to Bloomberg.

"Nobody should forget that these governments are the only legitimate representatives of the will of the people in our democracies. To forget this is to risk democratic chaos and hence anarchy."

His comments echo those of Italy's G8 presidency in 2009, when the country's president Silvio Berlusconi said he would push for an international agreement on regulating the internet.

Last year, Sarkozy said such rules were a "moral imperative". He continued that theme today.

The French president said that, if regulation was put in place, it wouldn't "damage growth" in the tech industry, before adding that "you can't escape a minimum set of rules".

The likes of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Eric Schmidt and News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch are reported to be among the high-profile execs attending the forum.

Sarkozy bigged up the impact the internet has had on the globe by comparing it to voyages of New World explorers such as Christoper Columbus.

"In a few years, you have rocked the very foundations of the world economy in which you now play a major role," he told the forum's delegates.

He also pointed out that the industry had been richly rewarded with investment funds.

"States invest in the technical and technological infrastructure that provide transport for the services and content that are circulated on the web," Sarkozy said.

In recent years, France has been at the vanguard of championing tighter governmental control online, specifically with its anti-copyright infringement Hadopi law. ®

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