Eg8 societecivile

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Conférence de presse de la Société Civile lors de l'eG8

  • Lawrence Lessig (law teacher Creative Commons founder)
  • Jeff Jarvis (american journalist),
  • Jean-François Julliard (secrétaire général de RSF)
  • Susan Crawford (former ICANN board member l'ICANN)
  • Jérémie Zimmermann (spokesman of La Quadrature du Net).
  • Yochai Benkler (co-directeur du Harvard's Berkman Center for the Internet).


Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


Thank you, everyone to be here, sorry for the improvising and the impromptu condition of this press conference, as you also know, there is very very little, if any, representation of civil society in this eG8. In last minute on Thursday, they threw in some foldable chairs for us, they improvised some freedom of expression panel just to say that our issues were represented after all.

But what we saw yesterday was Nicolas Sarkozy addressing only CEOs and business actors, telling them You are the Internet, You are the revolution and You are doing everything.

And you now have the responsibility to fight the pedonazis, the terrorists, and the copyright wars, so this is something that disturbs us, I think, all of us, here. Maybe each of us will make a quick statement of 4 to 5 minutes, let's say 4 minutes if we can do it. We have fantastic people around here from Yochai Benkler of the Berkman Center, to Jean-François Julliard of Reporters Sans Frontières, to Susan, how would you define yourself?

Susan Crawford[edit]


Susan Crawford, former ICANN board member.

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


Professor Lawrence Lessig who doesn't need any introduction at all, and Jeff Jarvis. Maybe Susan, you can begin.

Susan Crawford[edit]


The communique's already been drafted for this g8 summit, errr meeting, this e-g8 meeting.

It's been leaked to the NYtimes which published this story this morning, explaining exactly what the communique would say. The reason this press conference has been called is that civil society groups have joined together from around the world, to issue a very short and simple statement, calling on the eG8 and in turn the G8 to protect the open Internet, to maintain the neutrality of the Internet, to establish the principles that encourage the free flow of the information. All of us sitting up here today understand as do you out there, that an open Internet is actually the basis for a democratic flourishing around the world; that all government policies that hoped to encourage citizens to flourish including education, health, energy policy, every variety of policy that operates in the world today are all encouraged by the existence of an open Internet and that access to the Internet is fundamental to human beings around the world. These are the most important policies that governments should be embracing: an open, fast and fair, and free Internet, so it's a very simple reason for this conference. We wanna make sure that these other voices are heard, even though the communique itself may already have been drafted. I call on my colleagues here, and Mr Jarvis, Mr Lessig, Mr Benkler and Reporters Without Borders to amplify on these remarks. But it's really very simple. We feel these voices aren't being heard. We really want to ensure that the voiceless, the future that hasn't been invited to this conference, is allowed to have its say as well.

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


Thank you Suzan. We have a few copies here of the civil society statement to the eG8 and G8. The signature list is not the latest one. You can see groups such as Access Now who couldn't get a badge to enter here, the Association for Progressive Communications… I won’t name them all, but there is german Digitale Gesellschaft, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the European EDRI and so on and so on… There is also this petition, that was organized by Access Now, that has been signed now by people from more than nineteen countries, to reclaim exactly what was mentioned before, which is all that is not at the eG8. So, maybe we will hear now Jean-François, because he will be leaving for a workshop later on, and (yep, Reporters Without Borders).

Jean-François Julliard[edit]


Yeah, thank you, I’m going to speak in French, I’m sorry for those who don’t understand French, but I will say the same during the next panel in a couple of minutes, but I would like to say a few words

In French because there are many French reporters here.

I am extremely disappointed by what is said here, in this meeting from the start, because we gathered the top people concerned with the internet throughout the world, the CEOs of the biggest companies, those that made Internet’s extraordinary growth possible, whereas there hasn’t been a single word concerning those who are suffering because of the Internet, I think of the 126 people who are now in jail, 126 bloggers NetCitizens, Internet users, who are jailed in Iran, in China, in Libya, in Vietnam, and in a whole lot of other countries, who are jailed only because they have used Internet, I find this outrageous that no one had a thought for them yet, none of the leaders in the Internet sector who talked since the beginning of the meeting have had a thought for them. It is good to want to promote Internet, but we should start with having a thought for those

who are suffering from this, and I can also tell that if we need to make only one recommendation to the G8 and the governments that compose the G8, it would be to put the defence of a Free internet before anything else. There is today one person in three in the world, one internet user in three, who doesn’t have access to a free internet. So before thinking of regulation, before thinking of even defending intellectual property, before thinking to promote economic transactions on the Internet, we need to focus on keeping Internet free. Focus on allowing the Internet users, all around the world, wherever they might be, to keep accessing a free Internet, and to keep accessing the same Internet. So if we have to make only one recommendation, it’s this one, disregarding any other recommendation, the G8 governments need to make the defence of a Free internet their one absolute priority.

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


Thank you Jean-François. It's very hard now to choose who between those impressive analysts will speak first. Shall we cast a vote ? Professor Lessig, maybe ?

Lawrence Lessig[edit]


Yes, so, I just spoke and I'll be very brief. It's surprising to come to France and find something so deeply American going on. In the United States, for the last 30 years, we've been trapped in an ideology that says that we should regulate by getting business together and ask them what is good public policy. We've done that in the United States to our great detriment.The financial crisis brought about by deregulation pushed on the American government by financial interests who benefited and then brought the economy down. And in every other area of Internet policy we see the same thing we have no broadband as Bankler's report for the Berkman Center demonstrates, we have no penetration, no effect of broadband in the United States because of a strong policy of deregulation that the American government bought, and it bought because the only people they cared to listen to were business. So to come to France, and to see an event like this, where the presumption of the President is « Get the biggest businesses together and ask them what the future of the internet should be » is astonishing, it’s just... You know, I did a little bit of French philosophy, but I don’t remember the French philosopher who said « Public policy is best devised by asking the businesses to draw up the public policy. ». That doesn’t sound very French to me. *applause*. So I’d love to come back to the Paris that I loved before, which is not the American version of Paris, but the French version of Paris, by a reminder that they are more interests than the interest of business. Business is important, and in business there is a division between the incumbents and the innovators and we have to keep that division alive.

But there is also the people who built the internet. They weren’t originally business, it was civil society, it was ISOC, it was ICANN... it was not ICANN, it was IETF, but it was a bunch of people who just aren’t here, so I agree with Susan, we need to find a way to remind the people here, that the people who are not here, who are just as important to the story.

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


Thank you Larry

Yochai Benkler[edit]


To avoid repeating, the critical change produced by the digital network environment is the radical decentralization of the capacity to speak, to create, to innovate, to see together, to socialize, the radical distribution of the poor means of production, computations, communications, storage, sensing, capture human sociality that which gets us together inside the experience, being there on the ground. That is true for the first time since the industrial revolution, that people can actually, with the things they own, capture the world and do something that is at the very core of the most advanced economies. Preserving that framework, preserving a framework that is open, free-flowing, flexible, adaptive to change and inviting so that one person's sacrifice in Sidi Bouzid can then be translated throughout the Arab world into a moment of mobilization. That’s new, that’s what is critical. For over fifteen years now, we have seen two opposing camps around the question of internet policy.

One camp is the camp of the 20th century incumbents, who are afraid that something will change, who are afraid of the people rising to participate, afraid of the outsiders innovating, and coming from the edges, who aren't authorized by the incumbents to innovate, who don’t have to come and say « Will you please implement this for me on your network? ». These are all the companies that we see now as great fifteen years ago, were from the outside. That’s where the source of innovation is. And the other model has been « Let’s keep things open, let’s keep things flexible, let’s keep things flow. ». And this opposition between those who say « It’s going too fast, slow it down, make it manageable, make it safe » and those who say « It’s extraordinary, it’s creative, let’s open this up, because we’re in a process of continuous experimentation, and adaptation, and learning.»

This is an enormous learning moment. That opposition has been there for fifteen years, and occasionally we’ve seen periods such as in the United States twelve years ago where the approach of shutting things down, making Internet Service Providers have to look upon of what it is that the content of their producers, regulating on software, regulating new services to make sure that they don't make too much of a threat to the incumbent industries win.

Then there was a long period of lolling in between where we understood the centrality of the commons, where we understood the centrality of what's open, and now what is baffling about this two days is the seeming resurgence of what we saw ten, twelve, fifteen years ago as though we had learned nothing. When people yesterday on the panel on IP were talking about if we don't have strong intellectual property the Internet will be just an empty set of tubes and boxes, I heard that fifteen years ago, and maybe, maybe then it was a plausible assumption. Today, it is laughable, except that it seems to have the ear of power. So, I think that what's critical here, is to understand is that there are pathways, like the Hargreaves Report from last week shows a pathway that says: No! I don't have to lock things down, I have to be very careful about locking things down for IP; instead I need to explore ways to open and allow flows. That's the critical opposition.

Achieving socially desirable and acceptable and legitimate goals while retaining an open fluid free Internet. Versus, being so scared of the new, that you are willing to lock it down, or to try to lock it down and to distort it. That's the opposition on which we all have to be -- whether it's about business, and innovation, about social equality and access, or about democracy and participation, whether it's about liberty, equality or fraternity -- we all have to be on the same side of the path of retaining an open net.

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


Thank you. Yes.

Jeff Jarvis[edit]


I find myself profoundly frightened in these two days, I'm frightened of those who are so frightened of change that they will try to stop it. The Internet is not governments, I said to President Sarkozy yesterday, yet the government tries to act as if it is. He said it was not clear, he feels he has the authority to regulate it. I tweeted this morning that I felt rather like a native, to be so presumptuous, of the Americas or of Africa when the colonist ships would come in to civilize it, "We have nothing to fear". As the CTO of the Verizon Administration in America calls it, the Internet is "The Eighth Continent". It is a new land; it has not been colonized, there is no flag from France or the US or the UK or anyone on it. It is ours. So, to that extent I don't blame President Sarkozy and Publicis at all for convening this meeting, because they are filling a vacuum that we the people have left. Then I think it is incumbent upon us, the citizens of this 8th continent, of this new land, to hold and convene our own meeting, and our own discussion, so we can invite, we should invite, the governments, we should invite the companies. But I'd rather this discussion was held at our table, rather then at government's table, which is what's happening here. So what does that discussion need to entail? I don't think that we need to have Constitution or a set of laws on the Internet. This... as my esteemed colleagues up here say, it is the very architecture of the Internet, that is its best protection, that is its very openness, that is its best protection to stay open. And the fact that it is distributed. So I think that we need to have a discussion of principles, as I say, or in... in... it won't end in some sort of statute or constitution because I don't think it should.

Yet I do think we need to have a discussion, because we need principles we can point to when we see them violated, when we see Verizon, and Google, right I am going to talk about Google, I am a certified fanboy, I am very disapointed in Google for doing a devil's pact with Verizon to cut up the Internet, into the Internet and Schminternet -- when you are on the wire it acts one way, when you are out of the wire it acts another way -- it's all in one Internet. So, what are those principles? On my blog I wrote a post that led up to my question to President Sarkozy yesterday on my suggestion that he and others take an Hippocratic Oath, and I'm so honored to have been quoted by Professor Lessig in a Lessig Powerpoint, I'm sorry keynote, I'm sorry we'll have an au revoir on this, but I... There are many good efforts to build Bills of Rights for the Internet, and I have thrown out my humble suggestions, and they weren't certainly wrong, but I think among them there is the right to connect, and when someone cuts off that right, it's a violation of Human Rights. So when Egypt cuts off the Internet connection, the Human Rights have been violated.

That right to connect is a preamble to the right of free speech. And what follows the right of free speech is the right to act and to assemble. It was in the French constitution that the notion of the right to assemble was invented. I think we need a notion that our information of our institutions and of our government should be open by default, and closed only by necessity. We are the opposite today. I think we have to have an understanding of what it means to be private and to be public. I wrote a whole book on that - I won't bore you with that. I think we have to respond to the notion of net neutrality by saying that all bits are created equal, and that when anyone restricts a bit for any reason, whether that it was a telco to restrict how you watch a movie, whether that it is China restricting you to search for Falun Gong, or is that Egypt cutting off the internet, whatever the flow of the internet that is restricted, the whole internet is restricted. And so finally we have to hold up to the structure of the internet to be open and distributed because that is its only defense. But I would argue, err, I would say that... they convened you : you've gone today. It's very important and should continue and we need to talk about these issues at the table of the internet, and not at this table here, or not only at this table here.

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


Before we go to questions I have comments myself on this whole "eG8" thing. Thank you for restating. I think that beyond the right to connect, it's existing fundamental rights that are being used through the internet. There is maybe no need to define new freedoms because it's the existing freedoms that are being attacked today. So this eG8 forum, beyond the local political whitewash of Nicolas Sarkozy, after 4 years of pushing for disconnecting French citizens with the HADOPI law, censorship of web content with the LOPPSI, and pushing of his notion of a "civilized internet", he pushed up to the organization of this event. Beyond that local political whitewash, this eG8 forum is to me a smokescreen to what the governments are really doing towards the Internet.

In the last twelve months, we witnessed an increase in the rate of repressive measures attacking the Internet, attacking our fundamental freedoms. I'm thinking of the US government reaction to Wikileaks, the US government seizure of domain names, the COICA PROTECT-IP act, the conclusion of the ACTA (Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) that will turn internet actors into private copyright police, the blackout of Internet in Egypt of course, the administrative censorship of websites in France, and other countries of Europe. Everywhere you look, governments are trying to gain control of the Internet. And what we are being sold here is the red carpet to those, Orange, Vivendi, Alcatel-Lucent and so on.

But if you look a little bit closer, those very companies are more and more basing their business models on the restriction of fundamental freedoms. Orange by selling this non-neutral so-called "mobile Internet access", Vivendi by pushing for the tougher copyright vision, 19th century vision where you try to forbid copies at all costs even if it implies to ban freedom to read, share and access culture; Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei are manufacturing the devices that are being used in authoritarian regimes to censor the Internet, and by telecoms operators who harm our freedom of communication by harming net neutrality. So we, the citizens, would expect from the governments that they protect us from those corporations, that they regulate the behaviours, whether they're anti-competitive or against our fundamental freedoms from the corporations, but instead of that, what we see here is the glitter and a red carpet.

Now if you have questions, I see Jean-François has to leave, but maybe if you're late to that thing it will be all right. 5 minutes or something? I mean, they're French, they will be late already.

Jean François Julliard[edit]


Yes, of course but it will be another audience, to tell the same, so I want to use this opportunity as well to raise this issue in a more official format as well.

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


You have maybe three or four minutes, if then one has questions directed to Jean-François, maybe first the questions directed to Jean-François ? Or general questions ?

Jean François Julliard[edit]


Ok, no questions so I'm free. Merci.

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


General questions ? One here, one here and one here. Yes, please, maybe you'd like to speak in a microphone ? If you want to come here,

Eric Scherer[edit]


Yes, one quick question, I'm Eric Scherer at France Télévisions. How do you reconcile what you are saying, about open Internet and freedom of expression and the need to educate governments, members of Parliament and the rest of the society about what you are just saying? There is a big need of Internet literacy to the governments and to the members of Parliament. They are totally illiterate about that. How do you reconcile that?

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


Shall I take this one? Well, that's what we are trying to do with "La Quadrature du Net" for more than 3 years now. And we are building, thanks to an open internet, a toolbox for citizens first of all to understand what's going on, and then to participate in the public debate. So, we, La Quadrature du Net, are nothing but the sum of all supporters caring about those issues and pushing for those issues, to the parliament, to the elected representatives and to all layers of civil society. I think we have all the tools, here on the table to do it, it's just a matter of working towards it. Larry ?

Larwence Lessig[edit]


Yes. I think that the net has been pretty good at educating itself about the values of this network. I can't speak for France or for Europe, but I think in the United States, we see in civil society communities that are engaged in trying to spread and defend what Internet is about. The problem that I see in the United States is, and again, I speak only of the United States: our government is so deeply corrupted by the dynamic that I'm talking about, that there is a wide gap between what the educators, the parents, the students, everybody understands the future policy should be, and what our government actually hears. So, I have shifted a bunch of my work towards addressing that issue of that corruption in the United States, because I don't think we get anything until we solve that. But I think that we have actually seen massive progress on this issue over the past decade, and I'm encouraged by that, at least in the context of what people think.

Jeremie Zimmermann[edit]


OK. There was one question somewhere... over here ? Ok. Jean-Jacques ? Do you want to come to the microphone or shout ?



I can shout if you can hear me. Jean-Jacques, I work for European Internet Company and I'm also Council member of the Internet Society, ISOC. Rather than questions, just to make a point, this is not actually just another of these ideas which are shared by civil society, a lot of these ideas are also shared by companies and actually the vast majority of Internet companies out there. Just yesterday, ISOC issued a press statement which also called for all stakeholders to be involved in this discussion around the internet and internet policy making. Without all stakeholders being involved have no point of having a discussion; and they also called for governments to uphold and protect the open and decentralised nature of the Internet. This is fundamental for all of us in this ecosystem. It needs to happen [noisy sound 2s]. This is not just about civil society. This is about users, civil society, technical communities and companies and governments sitting around the table discussing the issues.

Yochai Benkler[edit]


Thank you. I actually want to take that up and emphasize it.

We have a long tradition of thinking there is an opposition between efficiency or competition or markets, and justice and society, and that somehow we have to trade off between two competing goals that aid society: growth and welfare, and justice and redistribution. But in fact, what has happened with the Internet, is that growth and innovation is exactly what democracy and justice require. Both of them need the means of production distributed widely in the population, so that anyone can speak, anyone can create, anyone can create their own innovation, anyone can create their own business.

This age old traditional divide is a divide of the industrial economy. We have been able to overcome that divide and today it's between 20th century business models, and both innovation and growth and civil society, democracy and justice on the other opposing side. In that battle between on one hand innovation, growth, democracy and justice and preserving revenue streams of incumbent industries, it is not a closed choice.

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


There was a question here ?

Someone in the audience[edit]


Yes, I guess this question is really for Professor Lessig. Very basically, why is this so hard? You know the car came along, we have parking tickets, you can lose your license, there are charges for homicide. There is a wide range of penalties for all violation shit. Copyright law, as you rightly pointed out at the debate yesterday was the exact same one [noisy sound 3s] as in 1999. So the Internet is not new, copyright / cops (?) is not new and I know there are obviously different regulatory legal things around this, but why have we seemingly made no progress on coming up with a very basic framework that has penalties that fit all the different shades of violation?

Larwence Lessig[edit]


I think it's actually different depending on the country. I am struck by the debate in France around copyright. I was at conference at Avignon two years ago and I felt like it was 1995 all over again. Because as if nothing had been ever talked about this issues, it was the exact same framework that we were fighting back then. But other countries in Europe are different. I think Germany, for example, the green party has been pushing what they call a "cultural flat rate" that would be an alternative way to raise money for artists, that would decriminalize much of the activity which in France people would be kicked off the internet. And this point was made. I want to re-emphasize, there is something really outrageous, this point was made on my panel, by the French entrepreneurs. There is something really outrageous about the idea that the penalty that has been discussed in France is the idea that you disconnect yourself from the Internet. Only somebody seventy years old would think - people don’t touch the internet at seventy years old - would think that's proportionate. The idea that you will disconnect yourself from the most important infrastructure for community, and commerce, and political activity is outrageous and yet that is discussed here.

And in other countries, the Nordic countries and in Germany it is a much more open debate. In United States again, I think it is just hide out by this political framework where both Democrats and Republicans are so deeply wedded to the content industry that you can’t even have an open debate about this issue among politicians. This is just not a political issue.

And I think that we need to take advantage of places where it is a political issue. So Brazil has been extremely important getting people to recognize why there is an interesting opportunity here for development.

And we need to push in those places to move it along. But finally, what has been amazing to me has been WIPO. I was at WIPO about six years ago, when I walked in the bulding I was the devil and the director general wouln't talk to me and everybody said no word. I was just there six months ago and the Director General is extraordinarily innovative in his ways of thinking about the way copyright has got to evolve. And he's thinking exactly about the kind of framework for thinking about what a future regime should look like, and i got to address the delegates, the delegates were encouraging and thinking about these issues. It was a completely different place. And I think we have to take an advantage of that to some point show countries like the United States and France that 1995 thinking is so twentieth century.

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


If i may add something on that, though? It's very difficult to add something on professor Lessig. Those companies with business models in the XXth century were based on controlling the channels of distribution of copies still have hope in managing to attain the same objective with the Internet. There is still a chance with the ongoing mergers between those medias group and telcos, with the very strong influence they have on policy makers. They still have a chance to turn the Internet, the universal Internet we love and share into a globalized distribution channel for Vivendi, Fox and those guys. So we're really at a turning point here: why they are continuing like it's 1999, it's because they probably still have a chance, and maybe they have a greater chance than they had in 1999 to achieve this objective. I'm sure there are tons of other questions.

Andrew Rasiej[edit]


Andrew Rasiej, the Personal Democracy Forum I just want to make a point, and you're welcome to comment on it, that the arguments will be made now by the government officials and by the incumbents that the digital divide has been bridged because broadband distribution is available in many places where it wasn't before. But they are not actually focussing on the fact there is a new digital divide that most working class people can’t afford the broadband that is available, and so we need a reframing of the term "digital divide" specifically around this subject which is that cost has reached beyond the point of most people to be able to participate in the 21th century economy. We have to be careful that they don’t argue against these points that you are making today to say that we bridge the digital divide and therefore obscure what is really going on.

Susan Crawford[edit]


Yes, just to add onto that: to make things very simple, we are in a moment when government can join hands with the content industry and with the telcos to enforce scarcity, content controls, and lots of their desired goals, in a sense this is feeding a revenue model of governments and Hollywood to constrain Internet access, to make it much more like a 20th century broadcast medium and our older policy makers see the Internet as nothing more than a one-way screen. The rest of the world understands that the world has been turned upside down, anybody can be a publisher, anybody should get access to this platform for democracy, for speech, for content creation, for human flourishing. What we are witnessing today is the joining of hands of these giants incumbents -- and government is one of the incumbents -- to try to keep things as they were. And many voices are being left out of that conversation who could add significantly. So a purpose of this meeting here today with all of you is to make sure that no one walks away thinking that there is consensus. There is no consensus on enforcing scarcity, higher prices and constrain access for world citizens. The next Google could come from France, could come from France, should come from France but if Internet access is constrained and controlled, it won't.

Yochai Benkler[edit]


I think this also provides an opportunity to talk about something that we - who come here from the US - can learn very well from France and perhaps that France can learn from itself and its own experience. In a study I did for the FCC last year, it became very clear that US broadband penetration, broadband prices, broadband speeds, relative to its performance in 2000-2001, had declined from 2002 until 2009 by comparison to European countries. In doing a very close case study of half the OECD countries, what became very clear was that on all these questions of penetration, speed and price, the critical intervention that European governments undertook, and in particular in this case very successfully the French government that has in France some of the lowest prices for the highest performance in the OECD because of this, is to force monopolists to introduce competition.

And what we have to learn is that we take this simple principle, I mean understand whatever it is, that there is a core platform that can't be worked around, one of the things that government can do is to make sure that there is competition as a way of reaching this goal of not having people priced out even though in theory there is a connection. It is absolutely critical that we commit in the US to open access in the broadband physical layer, it is absolutely critical that we commit to open access higher up when we talk about mobile wireless, and we need to go to each country and learn what it has done well in its processes that have worked and translate that both to other countries and to other regulatory problems.

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


If you are looking for some more digital divides, I can think of one. Wouldn't there be a digital divide between people being connected to universal, unrestricted Internet access and the people connected to some kind of restricted, blocked, throttled, prioritised network that isn't related to the Internet? And if we look at this divide, maybe there are already more people if you take into account China and mobile Internet users, there may be more people on the wrong side of that digital divide as of today.

I'm sure there are plenty of other questions. Yes?

Alex Howard[edit]


Alex Howard, O'Reilly Media. To what extent can people make a difference? We've heard this communique has been leaked. What can and should civil society and average citizens do to actually make a difference to governments who are coming together tomorrow?

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


As for tomorrow, we put up -- it's more of a joyful protest than something that may have an effect -- we launched a website called on which we put a manifesto and called people to react by creative resistance. So there are dozens of works that are being submitted, some very funny videos or images, some trolls and so on. But beyond that, I think it's about using that freedom of expression and freedom of communication that we have between our hands in an unprecedented way, use it to make governments accountable, use it to make our elected representatives accountable, and that's one key point in the way we campaign at La Quadrature du Net, is to try to increase the political cost of taking the bad decision for policy makers. This is what we can do with our added freedom of expression.

Larwence Lessig[edit]


I just wanted to add to that and emphasise a point that Susan has made. I think that the biggest thing that we can do is to negate the framing of this conference as "everyone agrees here's what the future of the Internet needs". And we negate that by first pointing out that "the Internet was not here": one slice of the Internet was here, companies that can afford the hundred thousand euros sponsorship cost and whatever else. They were here, that's fine, but another huge part of the Internet is not here and especially the innovating companies that five years from now will think of this equivalent of Twitter, they were not here and so "everybody was not here", number one; and number two "we all don't agree on the basic principles of what we should be doing going forward", so I encourage the G8 to think about how to open up a conversation about what the Internet should look like.

I think Sarkozy's decision this year to try to do that was a good one but the question is "how do you do it so it really is the Internet that we're talking about and involve enough of the Internet so they we can begin a conversation towards that policy that would make sense ?"

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


Larry, if I may, you've just said that you thought that it was a good idea that Sarkozy launched this discussion between governments. Don't you see this also maybe as some kind of takeover of Internet governance by government to some extent?

Larwence Lessig[edit]


Well, if the idea entails, I think as Jeff was putting it, the idea that we should be taking over the Internet in some way, yes, I don't think that's a good idea. But I think that it is necessary that we figure out how we preserve this ecology of the Internet. Like what do we do to make sure that it survives, and we need that conversation to include more people who say "keep your hands off of this part; intervene here, like Yochai was just saying to ensure competition in access at the physical layer". That's a conversation that's complicated and important to have. And I think that we need to have that, and I think just right that we should have been facilitating that more on our own. We don't quite have the resources that France has perhaps to launch that conversation, but if we did, I'd be happy to have that conversation certainly.

Susan Crawford[edit]


Yes, there's a choice between governments only talking about this which is what the eG8 is and a multi-stakeholders approach which would involve civil society, all the Internet users and the idea that the Internet is for everyone and not just for the large incumbents.

Jeff Jarvis[edit]


But I'm... I'm still scared. And I want you to help me. I think it's the right question: "What the fuck do we do?" Right? We can talk here, we can change the framing. But governments have the force of law and companies have the force of the kill switch. And so I'm not sure what it is that we, the people of the Internet, really do. What is the force that we are... I'm a faux professor in journalism so it's ballsy of me to quote Habermas. But the counter to the weight of government that he sought in the salons and coffee houses - that I think is questionable - we do have now, as a counterweight to government and a counterweight because Sarkozy said yesterday that government is the only appropriate spokesman for the people of a nation. God forbid no! Tell that to people in Egypt. The internet became the means for the true voice of Egypt to come out. And so I really ought to say I don’t know what to do, is there anything else we should be pointing out ?

Lawrence Lessig[edit]


Here is one point: you know, we can romanticize the Internet and I have spent many many years as a cheerleader but the fact is, what the Internet does, what people on the Internet do, is more effective in some places than others. So I don't know if you saw when the big bank bonuses were recently announced and Goldman Sachs -- huge bank bonuses. In the United States there was some frustration about it. In Holland there was a twitter campain against, that led to the government blocking bankers in Holland from taking those bonuses, a kind of unimaginable effectiveness of the Internet to goverment policy by getting involved in having a government listen.

And you know, compare that to the United States where we just lost a battle in North Carolina, where after the telecom companies had succeeded into getting the federal government to say "No regulation of telecom companies, not having any of your open access regulation that Yochaim has been arguing for, not even having any effective network neutrality regulation. They then went to the states, because in the states, you have local communities that are building their own high-speed networks much faster, much cheaper than what the telecom monopolies provide. And the telecom monopolies didn’t like that, so what they did is they got the states to pass laws banning this local telecom franchises. So here they do not want any regulation from the federal government but they want state regulation to block some competition from local...

So we try to raise a campaign around this and though we get thousands of people calling the governor, the governor doesn't think she needs to pay any attention to the internet community at all. So the difference here is not so much the internet: the internet is the same. The difference is the political culture that feels that it needs to pay attention to it. And the only way to force a political culture to pay attention to you is to punish them when they don't. So in France, this three-strikes fact should be a source of extraordinary political organization to punish the French government and obviously...

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


It is it is it is

Lawrence Lessig[edit]

43:27 is of course. It is!... but the point is when that gets delivered and that had a message, when you go from a 5% return to a 20% return, then you're going to see people recognize the internet is a force. But we need to do that everywhere, it is not something we can take for granted, it is really something that's a culture that needs to be built.

Jeff Jarvis[edit]


So what I hear you saying, to oversimplify as is I want: we're not protecting the internet, we're protecting the speech, still.

Susan Crawford[edit]


Well, to simplify it even further, when roles and office depend on understanding what the internet is and forwarding the internet's openess, then we'll get the result we need. If we can vote people in or out based on their reaction to the internet. Then we'll be going somewhere. Governments only listen to the people who elect them and the businesses that fund their campaigns. Right. So Larry is taking on the businesses that fund their campaigns. We, the internet people, have to take on their election. This has to become, as it has become in Australia and in Canada, an issue for the electoral politics.

Jérémie Zimmermann[edit]


Maybe we can ... actually, we are all replying with our own words to the great question of Jeff. Maybe this will be used as a conclusion I don't know, maybe there will be some more questions but ... There will be, there's one more question ... In my view we have to continue what we are doing, doing it more and being more numerous to do it. I've got a few examples with our own campaigning where we really made a difference, whether it is with the amendment 138 in the European Parliament that made everybody be shaking with fear of "Internet's freedom issue", we moved the lines in the ACTA agreement, we directly changed some of its contents and when we leaked that letter from Nicolas Sarkozy to Bernard Kouchner, who was at the time minister of foreign affairs, who was to organise a conference about freedom of speech on the Internet, Sarkozy telling him "in the balance of the freedom of speech on the Internet, you'll put the HADOPI and you'll put the civilized Internet", just leaking that letter and organizing the leak with our Dutch friends from Bits of Freedom made the whole conference to be cancelled. So we have examples already of civil society pressures getting to a result. I think it is the way we use our freedoms of speech or expression. I think it is the way we use it collectively that makes us be citizens, that makes us do our jobs of citizens that makes us participate to politics in the noble antic sense of citizens carrying of the life of the "Cité" and this is exactly what we have to do between two elections and this how we win if you have some volunteer time to contribute. [Well said.] I just want to hear Yochai's answer to Jeff's question first if you don't mind.

Yochai Benkler[edit]


I don't want to take more time. It's just, the stories you heard tell both that we know how and that it is very hard. There are success stories, there are failure stories. But kinds of civil organisation that were extremely difficult and happened only in great moments of crisis when people came out in the streets are now more feasible at lower levels of activation. Whether it's free software developers organising against software patents at the European level, whether it's the story you just call about the conference on free speech, the level of activation necessary, because the effort necessary to participate is lower, allows us more direct participation, but the stakes are very very high on the other side. If you look at the net neutrality debates in the United States, we did exactly that, we put it on the, oh you, put it on the agenda. It became a real agenda item, the only thing -