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Numeric Sovereignty: which alternative to the Gafas

After years of intense use of the digital tools provided by #GAFAMS, a personal awareness makes me take a new path. It may seem strange to you, a project director in the field of information and digital systems who is starting to withdraw GAFAMs …

This approach is not a criticism of the quality of the services and functionalities offered by GAFAMs, if I have been a heavy user of them, it is because these solutions are effectively well developed and efficient from a user point of view. , but the question is not only there.

What motivates this change in positioning? The reasons are multiple and are available on different levels.

 

On a personal Level :

The main concern, which I know is not that of the majority of users, it is that of the use of personal data. I was an unconditional user of #Google (Gmail, Drive, photos, Maps, Waze (bought by Google) etc …), free version, which as the saying goes, if not paid it is you the product.

For intensive users of Google or Facebook, have you never noticed intense advertising targeting, proposals concerning services or products according to location, even when you have paid attention to your privacy settings?

 

Using your Gmail address to receive medical letters and / or medical reports is the right option when you see the use of health data by #Google [1]

There is also the fashion of connected health objects, interesting tools and there are a multitude of solutions: #Withings #Fitbit #Samsung #AppleWatch, ect … Where your data is stored, apart from the use of monitoring which interests you, by whom are they used? Google’s acquisition of Fitbit brings a whole new dimension to this question [2]

If we are now more particularly interested in the case of the social networks #Facebook, #Instagram, #WhatsApp, #LinkedIn and # Viadéo, which address different market segments. Again GAFAM solutions hold the top of the basket. However here again a number of questions, as users / consumers, if we want to be responsible must be taken into account:

  • Do we really manage our own data? [3] [3b]
  • Does the used applications have the appropriate level of security? [4][5]
  • Is the legal environment favorable to our protection?  [6] [6b]

The way I decided to answer these questions on a personal basis is to go back to rather French or European solutions, because this seems to me to be a crucial issue, and we can individually move the lines, we must resume our #Digital Sovereignty.

Here are some examples of personal solutions that we can use and most of all encourage:

    Mail messaging: a hosted, secure solution Switzerland: #protonmail
    Search Engine: The #Qwant engine is a serious alternative to #Google, which is evolving and improving. It is not perfect but it remains a good alternative to protect your personal data.
    Instant messaging: there is a French solution, a Start-up that I encourage you to encourage #Olvid, this solution guarantees the security and inviolability of your exchanges
    Cloud Solution for Storage: #Cozy an elegant solution, one of the advantages of which is to offer a significant number of connectors that allow you to simply recover your facts or other administrative documents.
    Connected watches: a French solution (brief passage through the Nokkia box): #Whithings
    Connected house: here too sooner than choosing Google solutions (#Nest), choose the French solution, which has allied with Legrand: #Netatmo.
    Mobile GPS: Choose #Viaichelin instead of Google Maps or Waze

These choices have a cost, indeed some of these solutions although offering a free version (with limited functionality), quickly require switching to a paid offer, but the prices are reasonable and I am convinced that we must go through there to find a guarantee of security of our data. Free anyway is just an illusion

 

At the economical level :

Indeed, it is the other angle that motivates my approach, even if it may seem futile for most of you, is the digital transformation which is both a buzz word but also and above all covers a reality that touches the whole of our economic fabric. Data becomes, even if there again, there are many fantasies, an undeniable resource of value creation.

All of this transformation leads to the creation of new professions, the appearance of new services and businesses. But here again, we all have our role to play, with two axes:

     A staff to rather favor when possible French and or European actors rather than the GAFAMs or their Chinese equivalents.
     A professional commitment to influence the choices of our respective companies when it is necessary to choose to implement a solution to support the digital transformation of our activities.

 

Even at the Start-up level, SMEs / VSEs asking the right questions can help ensure the long-term life of the company at the expense of short-term profit. For example getting on a #Marketplace like Amazon, your visibility is more important, you potentially reach a larger population, however all the knowledge of customers and their journey escapes you, but these are not the only drawbacks [7]…

The other key elements of the digital transformation of our activities are data, they have become El Dorado, the future growth driver, and therefore the following questions arise:

  • Data security, won’t they be used by government agencies? Interpretation of the Patriot Act and the Cloud Act leaves the United States [6] [6b] in the context of an intense economic war with the declared enemy, notably the European Community, is an issue far from trivial.
  • The security of our networks is another key issue that impacts the security of our data [8] but also the ability to exchange increasingly large volumes of data. Should we remain under American vassalage or pass under Chinese vassalage, mix using the European 5G technology #Nokkia? [9]
  • What about algorithms and their construction, should we leave the control of these tools to the US or Asia, is it not time to look at European solutions?

Here again, it is not a question of being dogmatic but of knowing the environment in which we live. An increasingly competitive world, seeing more and more conflict, and having our # Digital Sourverainité is a key element for our future. It is also for European economic decision-makers to suffer a salutary shock and to favor French or European initiatives, because the answer cannot come only from the states [10] [10b].

On Geopolitical level:

Là aussi les questions de maîtrise des technologies de l’information en termes de software mais aussi en termes d’infrastructure/Hardware sont stratégiques et vitales pour un continent, le continent européen qui est l’une des toutes premières forces économiques mondiales mais un nain politique et militaire.

In this chapter also we find the key points mentioned in the two previous sections:

  1. 5G networks, Fibers
  2. The Cloud, with aspects of localizing Data Centers and the legal entity that manages them (beware of extraterritoriality than American law)
  3. The softwares and especially the algorithms used, we can no longer be content to accept that it is just black boxes, it is obvious that they can be used for vast manipulations of public opinions, which are the strength and the weakness of our great democracies. The way they work can lock us into a circle of publications that can self-fuel a phenomenon that after all is marginal [11] [11b]
  4. Personal data on platforms such as Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Amazon, etc. How is it used, to whom is it sold? Are they with the agreement of the user? And to all these questions, the dangers are multiple: Targeting populations determined to influence the outcome of a vote [12], Illegal competition recovery (villainy or state action) to promote business or a strategic economic sector … [13]
  5. The necessary mastery of the technological bricks of our complex world and increasingly based on technology in order to maintain strategic and military independence: GPS signal [14], or communication protocol but also the hardware and low layers like the OS. But also to keep its economic independence, in particular our exchanges with countries which are classified as enemies of the US, because the enemies of our “friends” are not necessarily our enemies: Iranian crisis and US-China economic war [15]….

Conclusion

The solution is not necessarily in the total rejection of GAFAMs or their Chinese competitors, but to make reasonable use of it and not to hesitate to take other alternatives when they arise. For CIOs of large French and / or European groups, it might be time to get out of the comfort zone of the recommendations made by the large consulting firms which are almost exclusively American and which are the prescribers of the solutions leading to the realization by the same of successes that weren’t necessarily written. For French and European companies, it might be time to think of the European cloud and outsourcing players: #OVH, #Outscale, #Online, #Orange …

Also remember to support French Start-ups that offer a whole range of innovative solutions in different sectors: #Olvid for secure instant messaging, but there are also players in specialized, often strategic sectors, some of which unfortunately have passed under the American flag # Latécoère or in the process of doing so #Photonis. Faced with a state that cannot do everything and a potential failure of our political elites, it seems important to me that we mobilize to take back control of our destiny.

 

 

References:

[1] Usine Digitale ‘Une enquête s’ouvre sur la collecte massive de données de santé par Google aux Etats-Unis

[2] Dailygeekshow ‘google fitbit rachat’

[3] Le Monde (Mai 2016) ‘Données personnelles : Facebook condamné par la CNIL à 150 000 euros d’amende’

[3b] 01Net.com (Novembre 2019) ‘Une nouvelle fuite de données personnelles chez Facebook’

[4] ZDNet(Août 2019) ‘Whatsapp ‘une faille de sécurité découverte par Check Point’

[5]Le Monde (septembre 2018) ‘Cinquante millions de comptes Facebook affectés par une faille de sécurité’

[6] Les Echos (Juillet 2019) ‘Cloud Act : Amazon traite les requêtes de la justice américaine’

[6b] Alliance Connect (Mars 2015) ‘Jusqu’où va le Patriot Act ?’

[7] 20 Minutes (Décembre 2018) ‘En conflit avec Amazon, les petites entreprises veulent redéfinir les règles du jeu’

[8] Le Monde (Juin 2019) ‘La 5G provoque un vent de panique au sein des services de sécurité européens’

[9] Le Figaro (Juin 2019) ‘L’Europe en mal de stratégie pour le déploiement de la 5G’

[10] Les Echos (Août 2019) ‘Une page se tourne pour le cloud souverain français’

[10b] Le Figaro (Octobre 2019) ‘Le cloud souverain à la française, parade aux lois américaines’

[11] SiècleDigital (Septembre 2016) ‘Comment fonctionne (réellement) l’algorithme de Facebook ?’

[11b] TV5 Monde (Janvier 2018) ‘Facebook : son nouvel algorithme “sympa” va-t-il tuer les médias ?’

[12] CNIL (Avril 2018): ‘Affaire Cambridge Analytica / Facebook’

[13] Atlantico (Juin 2013) ‘L’autre enjeu du scandale de la NSA: derrière la lutte contre le terrorisme, l’espionnage industriel américain à grande échelle’

[14] Next Inpact (Décembre 2016) ‘Galileo : le GPS européen est enfin disponible’

[15] Les Crises (Février 2019) ‘La guerre technologique et les sanctions américaines prendront fin, par bipolarisation de l’économie globale. Par Alastair Crooke’

 

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