Zuckerberg, Schmidt Take Center Stage at France's e-G8 Summit

By Beecher Tuttle May 25, 2011

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg showed off his international prominence on Wednesday when he was invited to personally meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the final day of the first “e-G8” summit.

The meet-and-greet comes one day after Sarkozy delivered a controversial opening speech in which he called on governments to do a better job of regulating the Internet and enforcing rules in the digital world.

The two-day e-G8 conference has brought together all the heavy hitters in the Web world –including Zuckerberg, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch – to discuss a myriad of issues related to the Internet, such as preventing the illegal downloads of copyrighted materials and protecting children from online dangers, according to the Associated Press.

However, the Paris conference has so far been dominated by the issue of Internet freedoms.

“We need to hear your aspirations, your needs,” Sarkozy told the group of executives. “You need to hear our limits, our red lines.” He added that the policymakers need to find a balance to protect against the misuse of the Internet while also embracing its ability to drive economic growth.

“Don’t let the revolution that you’ve begun threaten everyone’s basic right to a private life and full autonomy,” said Sarkozy. “Full transparency ... sooner or later runs into the very principle of individual freedom.”

A number of Web giants and Internet activists have vehemently argued against Sarkozy’s stance, noting that democratic governments need to examine the moral and economic ramifications of over-regulating the Internet, according to the AP.

While admitting that some level of regulation is needed for the “evil stuff,” Schmidt said that governments need to “tread lightly” on regulating burgeoning and innovative industries.

“I cannot imagine any delegate in this conference (who) would want Internet growth to be significantly slowed by a government that slows it down because of some stupid rule that they put in place,” Schmidt said during a panel discussion.

Zuckerberg, who is expected to make the closing speed at the conference on Wednesday, has so far been less aggressive in his comments than Schmidt and others.

Stay tuned to TMC for details on Zuckerberg’s closing speech.

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Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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