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Cameron promises government won't be 'heavy-handed' online

Representatives of government and business are discussing cybercrime at the London Conference on Cyberspace today.

An international conference is meeting today in London to agree the future of the Internet. Representatives of government and business, including Prime Minister David Cameron and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, are discussing issues of cybercrime, online safety and consensus between nations.

Government wonks, bosses of online companies and digital experts are gathered at the the London Conference on Cyberspace, convened by Foreign Secretary William Hague. The aim is to build a consensus on protecting cyberspace, an issue Hague described in his opening speech as equal in importance to tackling global poverty and climate change.

Attendees include the EU's European Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes, Cisco boss Brad Boston and Facebook's Joanna Shields, formerly boss of Bebo.

Cameron emphasised that online regulation should not be used as an excuse for censorship, saying, "We cannot go the heavy-handed route" -- conveniently forgetting his own ideas about blocking social networks after recent rioting here in Britain.

Hague wants to agree a 'London Agenda', a consensus on cybersecurity and online regulation between nations, but is resisting China and Russia's calls for tighter state controls over the Web.

Wales also warned that "misguided or overreaching government policy" is a greater threat to the Internet than cybercriminals.

Cybercrime and online attacks are on the rise, with Ian Lobban, chief spook at government listening post GCHQ warning that cyberattacks on the UK are at "disturbing" levels. The government pledged £650m at the conference to tackle online wrong'uns.

Should the Internet be regulated, moderated or monitored? Is government involvement, no matter how apparently benign, to be resisted or do we need to be protected from the dark forces at work on the Web? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.