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French president speaks out on the internet and democracy

Joint IIC - Italian Chapter and Agcom workshop

French president Emmanuel Macron has insisted that new laws are needed to limit and protect online content and the internet itself, reports the Register. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Paris, Macron made repeated calls for additional regulation, and complained about the “false alternative” of self-regulation or government control. “If I may be politically incorrect there are two kinds of internet emerging: Californian cyberspace and Chinese cyberspace.” The first is where “globally dominant private sectors actors” are left in charge, he said, but while those companies have “a lot going for them” they are “not democratically elected”. His issue with the self-regulatory approach is that it treats all content as equal and has resulted in anti-democratic forces using that openness to undermine democracy itself. “In the name of liberty we’ve allowed the enemies of liberty to gain prominence, casting away everything we've fought long and hard for,” he argued. Instead, he said: "We want our values upheld on the internet." Macron repeatedly criticised the approach and business models of online giants, including implicit references to Facebook. Which made it a little surprising when he used the speech to announce a new programme with Facebook where French regulators will “work in conjunction” with the social media giant starting in 2019 to come up with “concrete, tailored proposals to fight hate speech”. Facebook will “host a delegation of French regulator”, Macron announced, saying that the approach represents a pilot programme that he hopes will end up with a set of best practices that set the highest possible standards. He also pushed a new set of principles that the French government has led, termed the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, a high-level declaration on developing common principles for securing cyberspace. While prominent technology companies have backed this international cyber agreement, which would limit the use of certain cyber weapons, the US did not extend support, along with some other countries, notes the Hill. Read more and here.

  • Tuesday, 20 November 2018

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