G8 Leaders to follow the wrong lead on internet issues
23 May 2011
The European Consumers' Organisation (BEUC) and Consumers
International are deeply dismayed that the G8 group of political
leaders' preparatory meeting dedicated to internet issues ('e-G8
Forum', May 24-25 in Paris) will be "organised and financed by
industry"1 in view of the full Summit meeting May 26-27.
Debate will centre on the burning issues of the future of the
internet, how they should be managed and who should do so.
However, the Forum raises serious concerns due to a complete
absence of consumer representatives and participation limited to
industry, rights holders and entrepreneurs.
Recent developments such as the controversial conclusion of the
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the debate on both
sides of the Atlantic on Net Neutrality2 and now the
imbalanced agenda of the e-G8, add to growing criticism of the
exclusion of civil society from such key debates.
Helen McCallum, Director General of Consumers International
"To deliberate and decide behind closed doors on such
fundamental digital issues prompts serious concerns of legitimacy,
process and indeed, whose interests are being served. The voice of
users and civil society has been relegated to the spectator's
gallery, while the internet's big businesses are encouraged to
redraw the maps. All eyes will be on a possible, subtle shift in
'ownership' of the internet, something which should interest us
Monique Goyens, Director General of the European Consumers'
Organisation (BEUC) said:
"Cornerstone policies on digital issues are currently being
settled at national, European and global level. Consumers'
interests should be at the forefront, of these deliberations, not
"With the electronic explosion in personal information
collected, stored, bought and sold, the risks to privacy have
multiplied. Indeed, our basic notions of what is privacy are being
redefined by the internet. These huge questions need to be
carefully and comprehensively answered, but here the G8 only seems
willing to act as cheerleader for commercial interests."
2 i.e. an open internet whereby traffic and content
is not unduly 'managed', prioritised or charged for higher
bandwidth services such as audiovisual streaming, film and
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