How to impose the notion of digital sovereignty? This is a question that has been nagging at me for some time, with an acute relapse in the face of our government’s negligence and subservience to the American digital giants, as demonstrated by Bruno Lemaire’s announcement of the “Trusted Cloud”.
This French disease, the underestimation!
Why do I find this announcement of our government very symptomatic? Because once again the message is deplorable, we should go through the “Trusted Cloud” because we would have no other solution than to go through the American technology… What is behind this notion? It’s about asking #gafam to license their technologies to French players. If this partly solves the problem of data sovereignty, it does not protect us from American technological supremacy.
In addition to being false, this idea is tantamount to wanting to nip in the bud any possible emergence of a French digital giant, mature and technologically independent, and especially wants to confirm our vassalage to America.
If it is true that on some technological levels, we have lost our expertise and skills, especially on chips and processors, it is far from being the case in other areas. It is important to remember that the success of some American digital giants has been achieved through the purchase of French technological patents (Apple for touch screens…)
It is also crucial to remember that in the world of software the French are once again quite prolific and offer solutions that have become references (VLC for example, or Jitsi even if the latter has been bought by an American company…)
So clearly, it is wrong to think that we are not equipped to fight against the American hegemony, at least from a competence and innovation point of view.
What consequences ?
As I have already had the opportunity to discuss in several of my articles (articles 1, 2, 3), Digital sovereignty is a crucial issue. And moving from the requirement of a sovereign cloud to a “trusted cloud” means lowering our level of sovereignty and accepting the control of the United States, with numerous and varied consequences, which I will quickly outline.
First of all, the most obvious consequences are economic and industrial. These are skills that will eventually escape us, jobs destroyed and this in the industry of the future … These consequences although important and catastrophic are not the only ones.
Then the geostrategic consequence is that we are subjected to the American desiderata which will dictate to us with whom we are entitled to make trade. Using American industrial technological bricks, could prevent us from having markets with for example Russia, Egypt, or China … Yes, isn’t it, difficult to obtain a license from the United States to obtain markets that they would consider contrary to their interests (We had the bitter experience, especially in a military contract with Egypt that could not be realized after signing, our missiles had only one American element, a chip, they forbade us the export).
But there is another consequence, which we underestimate, completely because we have let it happen. These are cultural consequences! The best example, and one of the most emblematic, is the hegemony of Anglo-Saxon names in the digital industry, whether for technical terminology, but also in the names we give to French digital solutions. This detail may seem minor, bordering on the laughable, but it influences the way of thinking, the resulting model of society and the disappearance of cultural specificities.
All these consequences show how important it is to fight to maintain our digital sovereignty, and that this fight is not only an economic and industrial fight, even if this part is very important.
What to do about it?
I think that we must unfortunately acknowledge that our governmental “elites” are outdated, under Anglo-Saxon influence, and that waiting for some kind of initiative from the government is unfortunately rather illusory. The Confidence Cloud affair is emblematic on this point.
It is therefore necessary to mobilize all the digital players, i.e. French solution providers, digital service providers, but also French engineering and consulting companies. But let’s not forget the other key component, the consumers, we must not forget their importance, if we manage to convince them to seize this issue and offer them solutions that meet their needs, a large part of the fight will then be facilitated…
We should probably also think about the #PlayFranceDigital collective becoming a sort of professional union, with the mission of representing French digital actors. With in its missions the promotion of these solutions, of digital sovereignty and of the protection of our citizens’ data. In the actions that we can envisage, we can consider classic promotion actions, lobbying French and European political authorities in order to propose normative solutions that truly reinforce digital sovereignty.
Another action would be to support the use of certifications that clearly characterize the “#DigitalSovereignty” label of solutions. There is one that seems appropriate, and it has the merit of existing: “Sovereign Solution” from Privacy Tech …
It would be important for French digital actors to get hold of it, and through its use, allow users and prescribers of uses to clearly establish the sovereign nature of the solutions and technologies used.
The road is arduous, and the fight is difficult, however we must take up the challenge! We still have a French excellence in the digital field, recognized even by our adversaries, since they come to shop by buying many of our start-ups to recover the patents…
We must not hesitate to use the same weapons and fight on their ground! Yes, it is time to find a spirit of conquest that we have left behind! It is not enough to find it; we must not be ashamed of it and we must assume it! The fight is beautiful, and it deserves to be fought!