PARIS - The heads of virtual giants Facebook, Google and eBay will be invited to meet in Paris in May to formulate proposals on the future of the internet ahead of a G8 summit in France, a sector source said.
The French government "has decided to organise a forum in Paris days ahead of the G8, bringing together the heads of various internet firms along with experts and specialists," the source said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy - who will host the G8 gathering of leading industrialised powers in the western town of Deauville - originally proposed such a meeting back in January during a visit by US counterpart Barack Obama.
"The heads of Facebook and Google, Mark Zuckerberg and Eric Schmidt, as well as eBay, Twitter, and (Chinese search engine) Baidu," will be among the main invitees for the Paris meeting, the source said.
"A delegation will then head off for Deauville to transmit their opinions and conclusions," to the heads of state and government gathered there for talks on May 26-27, she added.
No formal invitations have yet been sent awaiting an agreement in principal from the other Group of Eight nations - Britain, Canada, Italy, Germany, Japan, Russia and the United States.
At Sarkozy's initiative the issue of the internet is included on the G8 agenda, to allow discussion on hot topics such as cybercrime, domain name governance, freedom of expression and protection of private data, the source said.
Some of those subjects could yet be yanked off the agenda if some of the summit participants, notably the United States, are not in agreement.