STEVE CHIOTAKIS: President Obama continues his trip to the U.K. today ahead of his plans to attend the big summit of the world’s group of eight economic powers in France later this week. But before that meeting gets underway, there’s an international summit in Paris today bringing together world leaders and tech titans. So what does Facebook have to do with international policy?
The BBC’s Christian Fraser is with us now from Paris with the latest. Good morning Christian.
CHRISTIAN FRASER: Good morning.
CHIOTAKIS: So the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other tech CEOs are there with the heads of state. Why are they there?
FRASER: Well, it’s the first time the voices of the big Internet companies — the thinkers, the major players who built the Internet — will be heard at the highest level of world politics. The Internet economy makes up around 6 percent of the world GDP. It’s a huge business, but there’s still this huge gap of incomprehension between the people in the technology industry — the techies — and the policymakers. They’re two very different worlds, they often have a very hard time understanding each other. Nicolas Sarkozy who is hosting the debate and speaking this morning wanted to get a feeling for what the industry is thinking and how policymakers might be able to help.
CHIOTAKIS: I know there’s been tension before between world leaders and these tech leaders. How do you think that’s going to play out?
FRASER: The two views are this: there’s that aspires by Google and Amazon who want a hands off approach to the industry. They want more favorable tax regimes and labor laws for the industry to help it grow. And then there’s the alternative view adopted by many countries in Europe now of more regulation on things like privacy law and competition and copyright laws. And I think there is a lot of suspicion — not least because the man that is hosting the debate — President Sarkozy himself — is seen within Europe by many in the industry as a barrier to digital growth. He’s introduced anti-piracy laws. He’s proposed a levee to tax global Internet companies. It’s very different to the American approach. President Obama’s on the line throughout that he wants more freedom. It underpins not only the American economy, but also its fundamental to U.S. foreign policy.
CHIOTAKIS: The BBC’s Christian Frazer in Paris. Christian thanks.
FRASER: Thank you.
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