Underpinnings of the Internet Shift

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook gulped Gatorade as sweat blackened his T-shirt. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France spoke of setting “red lines” that Internet users should not cross. Lawrence Lessig, an advocate for an open Internet, accused technology giants and politicians of striking a Faustian bargain to regulate the digital world in their interests.It got hot last week under a tent in the Tuileries Gardens of Paris during Mr. Sarkozy’s E-G8 Forum on the future of the Internet. The warm weather was one reason.Another was the obvious collapse of an informal alliance that had underpinned the development of the Internet.On many of the policy issues that were debated last week, including online intellectual property rules and digital security, technology companies used to see more or less eye to eye with those, like Mr. Lessig, who say they speak for Internet users. Together, they represented “the Internet” — or at least they thought they did.

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