Internet 'diminishes influence of states'

The power and influence of governments is diminishing because of the rise of the Internet, the head of Google told the Conservative Party conference this week.

Eric Schmidt, the chairman and chief executive of the Internet company, said that the Internet was not necessarily a force for good, pointing out the rise of hate groups that have proliferated on the web.

But he urged the audience not to oppose or restrict the ever-expanding range of information on the Internet, which was overwhelmingly “a force for good” because it undermined oppressive regimes and helped to increase literacy. He said: “Betting against the net is a bad bet because you are betting against human nature, which wants you to communicate, to have fun, to know what other people are doing.”

He added that traditional models of retail, government, the media and parental control were all struggling to adjust because the Internet put greater power and information in the hands of customers.

Echoing the slogans of recent Tory election campaigns, he emphasised that the Internet set people free. “The power of information is so profound and so liberating, I have come to respect it even more than I always did. Information means more freedom.”

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