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Mark Zuckerberg, other digital execs discuss regulation of the Internet at e-G8

Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, and other digital executives met in Paris for the 'e-G8' to discuss regulation of the Internet.

By JAMEY KEATENAssociated Press / May 25, 2011

From left to right, Ebay CEO John Donahoe, Rakuten founder and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani of Japan, Bharti Airted Ltd Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, and Google Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt listen during the e-G8 conference, gathering Internet and information technologies leaders and experts, in Paris, Tuesday. The two-day conference also attracted Mark Zuckerberg and Rupert Murdoch among others to discuss regulation of the Internet.

Bob Edme/AP

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France wants better regulation of the Internet. Google's executive chairman says policymakers should tread lightly and avoid "stupid" rules.

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Bridging such differences about how the Internet could or should be more regulated took center stage Tuesday at an "e-G8" meeting aimed to parlay the digital world's growing economic clout into a cohesive message for world leaders at the Group of Eight summit later this week in Normandy.

The two-day Paris gathering has brought together Internet and media world gurus such as Google Inc. executive chairman Eric Schmidt, News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. And the discussion includes issues such as protecting children from "evil stuff" on line, preventing illegal downloading of copyrighted materials and shielding Facebook users from unsolicited invitations.

The e-G8 comes amid concerns in the industry that some countries — including several in Europe such as France — have taken measures or enacted laws that could curb Internet freedoms.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, kicking off the conference, said governments need to lay down and enforce rules in the digital world — even as they need to foster creativity and economic growth with the Internet.

It's unclear whether he'll win over digital executives with this argument, or whether the G-8 summit — which doesn't include countries such as China, a major source of online activity and online regulation — will agree on a single policy going forward.

Sarkozy said he faced mistrust over his push for the "e-G8" when Japan's earthquake, fiscal troubles in Europe, and the Arab world revolutions are likely to dominate the G-8 summit in Deauville on Thursday and Friday. Conflicting visions about the Internet — notably about how regulated it should be — has pitted companies such as Amazon.com and Google against governments about how to protect privacy and copyrights online.

"We need to hear your aspirations, your needs," Sarkozy told hundreds of business executives, creative minds and journalists at Tuileries Gardens in Paris. "You need to hear our limits, our red lines."

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