Fight back against Sarkozy's EG8 -- an exercise in censorship and control dressed up as a technology summit

Jeremie Zimmermann from La Quadrature du Net sez,
The Internet is the place where we meet, speak, create, educate ourselves and organize. However, as we are at a turning point in early web history, it could either become a prime tool for improving our societies, knowledge and culture, or a totalitarian tool of surveillance and control. After 15 years of fighting the sharing of culture in the name of an obsolete copyright regime, governments of the World are uniting to control and censor the Internet. The black-out of the Egyptian Net, the US government's reaction to Wikileaks, the adoption of website blocking mechanisms in Europe, or the plans for 'Internet kill switches' are all major threats on our freedom of expression and communication. These threats come from corporations and politicians, unsettled by the advent of the Internet.

As a host of the G8, France's president Nicolas Sarkozy wants to step up centralized control over the Internet. He has convened world leaders to a summit aimed at working towards a 'civilized Internet' a concept he borrowed from the Chinese government. By creating fears such as 'cyber-terrorism' their objective is to generalize rules of exception in order to establish censorship and control, thereby undermining free speech and other civil liberties. They will package this policy using words like 'democracy' and 'responsibility' but look at their acts. Sarkozy has already enabled disconnection of citizens from the Internet and the censorship of online content in France.

The Internet allows us to express our opinions universally. The Internet unites us and makes us strong. It is a space in which the common civilisation of our diverse planet meets. Our imaginations, through all kinds of media we create and publish, help us protect our rights and a free Internet. As world leaders gather at the end of this month, we must all come together and use our creativity to reject any attempt at turning the Internet into a tool of repression and control.

Everyone is invited to send URIs web addresses of any bits of expression produced in answer to this call to

I was invited to the EG8 and declined. I believe it's a whitewash, an attempt to get people who care about the Internet to lend credibility to regimes that are in all-out war with the free, open net. On the other hand, I now have a dandy handwriting sample from Sarkozy should I ever need to establish a graphological baseline for narcissistic sociopathy.

G8 vs INTERNET (Thanks, Jeremie!)


  1. How about doing an evaluation of the handwriting right now? There’s a website for that, and its maintainer told me that people are allowed to use the result under any license: (in german)

  2. This is much the same as the never-ending War on Terror, Eurasia always being at war with Eastasia and Bokononism needing to create an artificial bad guy to make the good guy more credible and to keep the people in line.

    Politicians are always scared of the people and seek to control them through fear.

    With the global economic meltdown set to get worse, they are right to be fearful.

    In the UK, we are being told that The Treasury is constantly under cyber-attack from foreign governments wanting to steal our secrets and bring down democracy.

    Until you read what they actually say is happening, which is basically a dribble of email scams for freeing the bank accounts of deposed Nigerian military leaders and some herbal remedy scams.

    Governments find people talking to each other terrifying.

    They know we are laughing behind their backs and don’t believe a word they say.

  3. Definitely a sham of a conference. Just given how the FCC has bungled net neutrality I wouldn’t what the U.S. government to be anywhere near the internet any more than they already are.

    One line bothers me though. “By creating fears such as ‘cyber-terrorism'”

    This suggests that cyber-terrorism is some red herring ghost and that is simply not true. The Gawker incident of a few months ago was alarming and VERY real. And they were attacked simply for expressing free speech.

    It really bothers me that some champions of the net are afraid to say anything too harsh about the 4chan or anonymous. Don’t people see this as an issue?

    It’s not just governments that threaten the freedom of speech. The tools are just different. Some use laws, others use hacks.

    1. Please. Calling the Gawker hack terrorism is utterly ridiculous.

      Stuxnet? That is definitely cyber-terrorism.

      1. Hacking into a secure site and STEALING thousands of passwords is not a benign prank or act. Stop downplaying the seriousness of these kinds of attacks. It’s tantamount to apologizing for them of in some way even justifying them

        And you are completely missing my point: Gawker wasn’t attacked because they were conducting shady business or doing bad things to bad people. They were simply expressing free speech and laying down some critique against the anon/4chan community. And they paid the price.

        We should all be worried about that kind of behavior.

    1. This was a pretty poor performance – nothing but a specturalization and hence consolidation of the Bush regime. Colbert did precisely what was expected of him, just what they all wanted him to do: make Bush human and laughable. Really, Bush is no laughing matter and a professional mourner would have been more to the point.

  4. This does not surprise me at all. The state of behavior on the web is abysmal, empowered through abused anonymity and encouraged by those who would advocate a lack of accountability to choices we would never tolerate offline.

    A cultural migration from conventional analog self-control to “I do on the internet because I can and you can’t stop me.” is as selfishly wrongheaded as it is alarming, and ultimately destructive. Those who act this way offline inevitably run afoul of societal norms and eventually, their governments.

    Why would anyone of historical perspective and intelligence anticipate anything different over time on the internet?

  5. I think one has to separate cyber-terrorism from cyber-war.

    War is fought by dedicated armies, and puts a country under a separate set of rules, hence the reference in the text to generalising rules of exception.

    Terrorism on the other hand is used by rogue people, and terrorists don’t “declare” terrorism to an enemy. They just do it. It is mostly a condition, a state of fact.

    Now the USA are built to a large extent on a military economy, so a state of war might feel less different from “what is normal” to some of you than to people in countries not continuously at war.
    But wartime and peacetime should, and normally are, very different.

    Anyway, I think we need to fight back against this war rhetoric, as it will justify horrible stuff if we let them use that lexical space.

    Using art and creation to do so seems like a nice way to do that. :)

  6. As the website manager for a small political group I am obliged to see this whole scam on Sarkozy’s part as an attempt to shut us up.

    B. Ross Ashley, webmaster
    NDP Socialist Caucus

  7. I wonder who else was invited but declined for similar reasons.

    Sadly they will claim the meeting a success even when biased to hell and back. Makes me think of how WIPO lost all “authority” once they opened up their doors for others then big media and other incumbents.

  8. Greekster, you would have to be incredibly naïve to believe a guy like Sarkozy care about the safety of your credit card. Living in France, I can tell you he doesn’t give the slightest damn about it. But controlling your freedom of speech, and spying on how you are using your computer, that’s what he really is interested in. Just like in Lybia, the more controlled the internet is, the better for regime stability. Sarkozy passed in France laws ( that are pretty much in line with China. He doesn’t trust independant media, which he cannot pressure. Some of his backers wanted to force bloggers to write with their real name by making illegal the use of a nickname. So much for free speech.

    Whatever he does, there are some constants in his politics, and the number one is: when he has to choose, Sarkozy will ALWAYS choose the side of big business, NEVER that of the citizens. There is NOTHING to expect from him apart from more internet control.

    You may have some good points to make, but it’s pretty unwise to choose your enemies to support them.

  9. While I hold Cory Doctorow in the utmost regard, I think he should have gone to E-G8 and spoken his mind. John Perry Barlow did us proud. Granted, the ultimate tangible effect of that is possibly negligible, but damn… I bet it is quite satisfying to sit among old media CEO’s and point out the fallacies of their arguments.

  10. The german platform quotes Sarkozy as follows: “The Freedom of the internet has become a criterion of whether something is a democracy or a dictatorship”.

    In light of his own “3 Strikes Law”, I can only assume Monsieur Sarkozy is referring to France as a dictatorship.

  11. This was a pretty poor performance – nothing but a specturalization and hence consolidation of the Bush regime. Colbert did precisely what was expected of him, just what they all wanted him to do: make Bush human and laughable. Really, Bush is no laughing matter and a professional mourner would have been more to the point.

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