Historically, with varying degrees, I have always had a lively patriotic feeling, even if I know it for many people, this is old fashioned and corny and that for the young generation, I will probably pass for a boomer!
Three months ago, I wanted to create this site on which I publish a number of articles on this subject but focused on the digital and industrial aspect.
What are the risks of giving up our sovereignty?
This is the key question to ask. What are the visible or hidden impacts of this surrender of digital or industrial sovereignty?
The first answer is quite obvious and refers us to the consequences of the health crisis that we have faced, and from which we have not yet emerged. In the event of a crisis, we find ourselves unable to provide our fellow citizens with the means necessary to overcome the difficulty, here there were shortages of masks, reagents (for tests) and certain drugs. It was the most glaring, and it was seen because the crisis was global and created unbearable strains on production and the supply chain.
But the effects are more pernicious than that, because in the digital domain too, through our collective inability to maintain a solid digital ecosystem, we are the object of the appetites of foreign, American, Israeli or Chinese actors who try to infiltrate our information and data systems, as the emblematic cases of the Palantir cases or the StopCovid application have shown. They also aim to reinforce the use of facial recognition software (RATP, Nice), some of which use Israeli tools, promoted by companies which have for the most part close links with Israeli intelligence (ex: Anysision)
We might think that the United States is safe from this kind of problem, but it turns out that its digital supremacy is disputed by China, and this can be seen through the Sino-American economic conflict around 5G, or when the law committee takes up the subject with regard to a Chinese application with overwhelming success among young people: TikTok.
All areas are impacted, because the current paradigm is that the black gold of the “new economy” is data, and that is why for several years, there has been a forced march, to allow transformation. digital technology of our companies and more generally of our economy.
Our data, sovereignty challenges?
We have previously touched on various issues related to the abandonment of our sovereignty in industrial or digital terms. But, one of the most important wars is fought around our data. What data, what challenges will you tell me ?
Which Data ?
I will surprise you; all the data is concerned. I am not going to list them all, of course, but I’ll try to give you some iconic examples.
Customer data: when you go through a “market-place”, whatever the platform, in the vast majority of cases, who has the real knowledge of your customers and their habits? This is the platform, and this is what makes Amazon strong for example.
Internet browsing data: there too in most cases, Qwant being a little different, the browser and the search engine that you use collects a considerable amount of personal information, on your tastes, desires to buy, political opinions, your sexual orientations and the same is true for social networks. But is it really what you want?
Geolocation data : The use of our smartphones, which have become indispensable tools of everyday life, and which we carry around everywhere, say a lot about us, and often even when we think we are protecting ourselves, the OS providers of these tools collect more than data we want (especially for phones running Android®, but not only)
Your Health data: They too are the object of many lusts, as shown in particular by the scandalous affair, of the Data Hub Health, where without a call for tenders from the administration, the Amazon cloud was chosen to host our hospital data and of the CNAM (effisyn-sds). But these are not the only ones, think of all your connected objects to follow your weight, heart rates, and other biological parameters … When you use an iWatch, it is Apple who has more and more knowledge about you and your condition health, if you use FitBit, it’s actually Google… So, you might say? But this data can be resold to insurers or any other organizations that will need this data to adjust their offer, in particular pricing…
Your Voice : Our smartphones and tablets, but also our computers and now “smart” speakers are seeing their OS (Operating System) evolve. To make your life easier, we have created voice assistants that work with AI… The practical side of these is offset by the fact that you are listened to constantly (le parisien, Leguideinformatique), and that, alas, as recent surveys have shown, these conservations are listened to and preserved, with the “laudable” (?) aim of improving the algorithm used ..
Your Face : There are two main sources for collecting your image : social networks where you post voluntarily, where your friends post photos of you, and video surveillance. If for the latter, in France, we are rather well protected legally, who guarantees us that this video data is not used without our knowledge? For social networks, it is more pernicious, in fact the data that we post on them, become in part property of the platform. This was well illustrated by the Clearview scandal (numérama)
What to do ?
The first thing to do is take the time to learn about these different themes. We cannot effectively banish all of these tools from our lives because they also have their interests.
Then we have to realize the importance of the stakes, stop being naive and try to make some consistency between our actions and our desires. What do I mean by being consistent? Stop thinking that our choices of connected objects or applications have no impact on our lives, and especially on the economy and therefore employment. Giving back a little sovereignty also means allowing us to keep skilled jobs with high added value in our country.
But choosing sovereign solutions also means being able to preserve our cultural and social values. It has indeed become an issue of geopolitical power (RFI)
It is necessary that as an individual as a consumer, we realize, that free is only a mirror to the larks, and that we must finally agree to pay the apps or services, from the moment they provide the expected value and the assurance that you have and stay in possession of your data.
As decision-makers, in the private or public sphere, you have to start accepting to reserve part of your application park for sovereign solutions, especially since often the quality is there!
As a digital actor, if you haven’t already done so, it is always time to join the group of digital actors in action and their call of April 9, 2020. The other track I see is the setting up an investment structure (French pension fund) in order to allow our start-ups or digital or technological companies to find financing that is not foreign financing.
We are only at the dawn of an awareness of the challenges before us. We may regret that this is only a late awakening, but that is by no means a reason to give up. But we have the means to act, there are alternatives to GAFAMs solutions, it is up to us little by little to learn to replace them with applications that are more concerned with your data.
France remains a land conducive to innovation, what we lack most are the tools to allow them to flourish and develop in France. Let us embark on this path! It is these commitments that will not only allow us to defend a high added value economic activity in France, but will also allow us to continue to defend our values.