Global leaders in Davos warned today that governments were languishing in the slow lane of  the information super-highway, allowing extremists the opportunity  to push their agenda without challenge.

Speaking at the annual World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Britain's finance minister, Gordon Brown, media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni agreed that the internet revolution had created an unprecedented challenge to both politicians and business leaders.

'The age of the smoke-filled room is over,' Brown said, arguing that major policy decisions could no longer be made and implemented from behind closed doors in an age when information and opinion can  be accessed and disseminated with such speed and ease.

Brown told a public debate that political decisions now required  the involvement of a far wider range of people.

His remarks were echoed by News Corporation chief Murdoch, who spoke  of 'an explosion of freedom of expression' that the world's power  brokers had no choice but to embrace.

'Everything is open,' Murdoch said, adding that it was no longer  possible to 'conduct the affairs of the world in secret.'

But while welcoming the increase in global transparency, the  discussion panel also warned that an unlimited arena for public debate meant access for opinions from the far margins of the social  and political spectrum.

Brown pointed to estimates that there were more than 6,000 Al  Qaeda-related websites 'peddling violence' on the Internet, and criticised governments for not taking on those sort of challenges.

Yesterday at Davos internet security was on the agenda and BBC business website editor Tim Weber sat in on discussions between 'the inventor of the internet' Vint Cerf, Michael Dell and other experts who think criminal activity is going to overwhelm the web.

Speaking on RTE Radio 1 this morning Mr Weber said there is big concerns that criminal activity could drown out people's vital traffic - both personal and business related.

Mr Weber says business is now so dependent on the internet that there would be huge repercussions if the network on which the internet is based 'went up in smoke'.

He adds that cyber criminals may have already tarnished the power of up to 25% of computers connected to the internet.