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Official website of the President of Russia

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Dmitry Medvedev participated in the Internet Economy: Russia and the Rest of the World session during the St Petersburg International Economic Forum

June 17, 2011, St Petersburg

Participants discussed prospects for developing the Internet and copyright regulation in the global information space.

* * *

President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: It was quite interesting to sit in on your discussion. Before I say anything political, I would like to thank Mr Vesterbacka [Peter Vesterbacka, creator of Angry Birds game] for his contribution to entertaining an enormous number of civil servants, who now have something to do in their free time, as well as work hours. I have seen this happen many times.

You know, this reminds me of another discussion that included a participant present here today: Mr Milner. That discussion took place at the G8 summit, where the leaders of eight major nations gathered together (it did not include China, which is not a member of the G8). And there, for the first time in the entire history of the G8, we discussed the Internet. It was rather amusing because it is not a traditional topic for G8 discussions. And moreover, I was able to see how differently my colleagues, G8 leaders, regard the future of the Internet and its role in the world. Indeed, I got the sense that their perception of the Internet and the digital world overall was more narrow than it is in reality.

We discussed several matters that we agreed on. First of all, we discussed the direction of Internet regulation: all the G8 leaders stated that cyberspace must be free. Granted, it seemed that everyone had a different understanding of freedom, because when we began discussing other issues, particularly those concerning copyright on the Internet, there was a wide divergence in positions.

”Russia needs to not only be a major energy nation that supplies energy throughout the world, but also a very organic part of the global digital space. If, for whatever reason, we fall out of the digital space, we will have serious problems.“

I think that the Russian Federation took a more pragmatic position in this regard. It boils down to the idea that we must ultimately reconsider our approaches to copyright – even if these concepts are holy to us, the Internet has nevertheless significantly changed the enforcement of copyright and its possibilities. My colleagues were more conservative. The only one who supported me was [Prime Minister of the United Kingdom] David Cameron. As a result, I feel that the G8 declaration on Internet ended up rather bland, but beginning the process is half the battle, and I hope that we will continue discussing this topic in the future, because there is simply no way to avoid it.

As for the issue you discussed, I myself spend quite a bit of time thinking about it, because I feel that Russia needs to not only be a major energy nation that supplies energy throughout the world, but also a very organic part of the global digital space. If, for whatever reason, we fall out of the digital space, we will have serious problems. I won’t talk now about the best approach to choose, but I think that we are following a fairly calm, balanced model. Granted, I must sometimes suppress attempts by particular departments to regulate something in a way that contradicts the purpose of cyberspace and the Internet.

In any case, we still have a long way to go, especially given the rapid development of technological media and the opportunities that become available with the use of broadband Internet. A reassessment of copyright norms is underway and will probably continue, and we must not fall behind in that process.

Finally, and this is something all the G8 leaders agreed on, the Internet has grown from a communication medium and a place to use the most cutting-edge technologies into a powerful political force. And the people who ignore this today do not understand anything about modern life. If we treat the Internet as a complex phenomenon, if we think about the future, then we will find a place for Russia on the Internet. In any case, I am pleased that we were able to achieve the idea of registering the .РФ top-level domain. I feel this has created a unique kind of place for the Russian Internet and enriched the Internet overall.

But everything is just beginning. (To Peter Vesterback) I do not recall how many Angry Birds products have been released, but in all likelihood, they will be appearing with enviable frequency. I wish the same great success to your other colleagues – especially representatives of the Russian segment of the Internet, which has recently been demonstrating outstanding progress.

As for advertising on the Internet – have no doubts, it will be there; that is the law of the market.

June 17, 2011, St Petersburg