Internet rights advocates have expressed anger after French president Nicolas Sarkozy opened the first ever e-G8 forum in Paris on Tuesday with an impassioned argument to increase internet regulation.
Sarkozy said that the same privacy and protection rules that govern democratic countries should also be applied online.
"The world you represent is not a parallel universe where legal and moral rules and, more generally, all the basic rules that govern society in democratic countries do not apply," he said.
The e-G8 forum is a two-day conference preceeding the official G8 focused on bringing together technology executives, businesses and world leaders to discuss the future of the internet.
However, critics have argued that the forum is an excuse for Sarkozy to further the needs of rights holders and businesses at the expense of an open internet.
UK prime minister David Cameron is likely to resist Sarkozy's calls for more internet regulation, according to reports, and Downing Street has said that it will "not be regulating the internet anytime soon".
Meanwhile, the Open Rights Group (ORG), which has previously campaigned for net neutrality, universal access to the internet and improved privacy for web users, expressed its disappointmwent with Sarkozy's comments.
"The bottom line is that the internet is already heavily regulated. The idea that the internet resembles a 'wild west' is nonsense," said Jim Killock, executive director of the ORG.
"We already have privacy laws, copyright laws and data protection laws. What more do [governments] want? The question is not more regulation but being sensible and not killing the internet by over regulating user services."
Over 45 digital rights groups have joined forces to campaign against Sarkozy's plans, and have launched a G8: Protect the Net petition to underpin their opposition.
A press conference is being held today to rally support for the campaign, attended by spokespeople from Icann, Reporters Without Borders and La Quadrature du Net (LQN).
"The world's most developed economies are poised to impose strict copyright enforcement and heavy-handed government regulation of the internet," said a joint statement by LQN and non-profit organisation Access Now.
"Voices of civil society are speaking out, urging the G8 leaders to adopt citizen-centred policies ensuring privacy and freedom of communication such as net neutrality, and combating online censorship, private policing and surveillance."
At the opening of the forum, Sarkozy did acknowledge that one potential problem about regulating the internet is that different democracies have different privacy regulations.
Sarkozy has previously seemed to side with rights owners by pushing through a 'three strikes' law in France designed to cut off alleged persistent illegal file sharers from the internet.
The move had repercussions elsewhere, including the UK which introduced a similarly controversial piece of legislation with the Digital Economy Act.
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