Next week France will serve as the host of a conference on online freedom of expression - a French-Dutch effort to draft a code of conduct against Internet censorship. Sounds good, right? However, a leaked memo from French President Sarkozy is undercutting the effort before it even starts. The leaked memo from the President of France urges the Minister of Foreign Affairs to push the country's anti-piracy legislation instead.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is a strong proponent of anti-piracy efforts. Earlier this year he had a major victory when he managed to get Hadopi - the three-strikes anti-piracy bill - signed into law. Opponents of the law have seized on the memo as evidence that the President wants to convince the rest of Europe that Hadopi is the right way to deal with piracy.
The memo was exposed by the advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.
In the memo Sarkozy tells the Minister of Foreign Affairs that the October 29 conference is an "opportunity to promote the balanced regulatory initiatives carried on by France during these past three years, and in particular the HADOPI law in the field of copyright, which has recently been supported by the European Parliament, as well as the measures taken to fight the new cybercrime phenomena."
"This international conference on freedom of expression could become the Trojan horse of Sarkozy and his friends' repressive and obsolete vision of the Internet," noted Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net. "This coarse manipulation of French diplomacy, disregarding our most fundamental values, is one more example of the alliance between the entertainment industries and a few politicians, who seek to control the public space to remain in power. There is now a huge risk that this repressive vision of the Internet spreads out to the rest of the world."