Digital Sovereignty, the milestones of 2020


With the year 2020 behind us, it is interesting to look back a little to see the highlights of that particular year. Indeed, if for a rather small circle, industrial and digital sovereignty was a major issue, this concern had a rather weak echo in the media-political landscape. However, the shudder that we had seen in 2019 grew to become an issue of concern.…

Covid-19 Crisis

If this pandemic persists and its management seems to put the main Western and Asian economies (excluding China) and their health system in default, it has however brought about a salutary awareness of our dependence on our supplies from abroad and mainly from China. This acute awareness occurred in the face of the disaster of our mask stock management.

We were able to see that sovereignty was crucial to secure our supplies, and that in the event of a global crisis (pandemics, wars) it was not superfluous to have production capacities on our national territory.

The mobilization of French digital players

Digital sovereignty has also been one of the recurring subjects of this year 2020. If for some time now, politicians had become aware of our unbearable dependence on American high tech, the #gafam, not to name them, mainly on aspects of tax evasion.

Our French digital players are mobilized in the face of contradictions in political discourse, the importance of our data and the choices made by these same players. The trigger was the Health Data Hub affair, with the choice of the American company #Microsoft and its Cloud #Azure offering (Effisyn-Article1, Effisyn-Article2, Effisyn-Article3, Article Appvizer). The result was the creation of a PlayFrance.Digital collective which launched the appeal of April 9, questioning the choice of Microsoft and reminding that there are powerful French digital solutions, but it is true that they do not have the visibility of #gafam. This call was followed by a new press release in the summer.

If this case was emblematic, we have also observed other mistakes in the decisions of some of our institutional players such as the BPI, with the choice of Amazon’s AWS cloud to host the data of the PEG (Loan Guaranteed by the State), or a national company such as Renault (Article)…

The optimistic note remains the mobilization of French digital players and fine companies or start-ups that have been able to show their qualities thanks to this pandemic and the massive use of teleworking, even if the emphasis has been placed on #gafam. I am thinking in particular of #Tixeo, #Wimi, #Jamespot or #Smanck.

Of course, they are not the only ones, as shown in this first cartography by PlayFrance.digitale

Source: PlayFrance.Digital

Europe reacts

Another important marker in the course of this year was the invalidation of the Privacy Shield by the Court of Justice of the European Union (Article), which calls into question the exchange of data with the US due to the lack of protection of personal data in the US compared to the European protections.

This decision, the consequences of which are not yet well measured by all companies, risks turning into legal headaches for large international groups which by nature have to exchange a lot of personal data of their employees, customers or even health data in the case of health industries (Article)…

The other key event of the end of 2020 coming from Europe, was the presentation of the European Digital Services Act and the Digital Market Act on December 15th by Thierry Breton (SiècleDigital). Any digital player with more than 45 million users will be subject to these rules… If there were any major incompatibility with these rules, it would be possible to go as far as dismantling these players…

In conclusion

If we cannot be satisfied with the current situation, as I have had the opportunity to point out many times, we can nevertheless end on an optimistic note. Awareness seems to be real, and there is a concrete and serious movement, particularly at the European level, to restore a protective framework to the European ecosystem.

However, it is a constant struggle, which will also involve acculturation of public and private decision-makers, so that they become aware that there are serious sovereign alternatives to the American and Chinese digital players.

Let’s hope that 2021 will allow us to see the installation of this awareness over time, but also actions that will allow a rebalancing of the digital economy…

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