Sarkozy's problem is that, like other political leaders, he doesn't like a medium over which the government does not have final authority. With the Internet's arrival, lofty concepts such as freedom of speech and freedom of thought are actually gaining traction. Prior to this, freedom of speech was meaningful only to those who powerful people who could use the printing presses and broadcast media.
Earlier this week in the UK, for example, football star Ryan Giggs filed a lawsuit against Twitter and thousands of Twitter users who ignored a court-ordered injunction that prohibited the media from identifying the celebrities involved in an extramarital affair case in which Giggs is a central figure. The so-called super injunction is truly odious, and prohibits newspapers and other media from even saying the injunction exists. In the old model of centralized, one-to-many mass media, the hiding of inconvenient truths was easily achieved. No longer.
This alarms politicians such as Sarkozy. In his opening address at the E-G8, he told his audience of digital luminaries from around the world that, "The universe you represent is not a parallel universe. Nobody should forget that governments are the only legitimate representatives of the will of the people in our democracies. To forget this is to risk democratic chaos and anarchy."
Sarkozy sounds like a music recording industry executive arguing that MP3s and file-sharing have already created chaos and anarchy in the music world. The music industry has responded to the democratization of music distribution with intransigence and lawsuits. They sought a legal solution to a business model disruption and are now paying the price. For his part, Sarkozy has enshrined in French law that anyone caught downloading copyright-protected music from the Internet without permission more than three times should have their Internet access cut off.
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