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Digital Sovereignty: Democracies and the "Black Boxes" of Digital Sovereignty

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At a time when transatlantic data agreements are being challenged by the European Court of Justice and when entire industries, in particular the automotive industry, may be threatened by software manipulation, the Institute for Digital Sovereignty is launching the publication of the first issue of the "Digital Sovereignty Papers". In a pedagogical approach, each issue proposes, thanks to the mobilization of experts, the examination of a subject or an issue related to digital sovereignty.
The first issue is dedicated to the new European challenges of digital sovereignty: "European democracies facing the temptation of the "black box"". 
Photo: Lane Hartwell, CC-BY-SA
 
Fith the advent of the monopolies of the Internet giants and of States that have based their sovereignty on their economic power, their technological advance and their mastery of electronic communications networks, are France and Europe still "masters of their destiny"? Does sovereignty still have a meaning? Will we be the losers of a new world economic order? Can we still regain control? How can we protect our companies and jobs from the predation of the new Internet monopolies? Which companies and what economic strategy should we use to compete with these giants and conquer new markets? What role for the state? What place and means for regulation? Economy of sharing or new imperialism? What levers can be used to transform the challenges of sovereignty into opportunities for companies?
These are the major issues addressed in this first issue by well-known personalities such as Jacques MARCEAUHe is President of Aromates, Founder of the Assises de la Souveraineté Numérique and member of the ISN Scientific Council, Corinne ERHELDeputy of the Côtes d'Armor, Pascal PICQPaleoanthropologist at the Collège de France, member of the ISN Scientific Council, Bernard BENHAMOUSecretary General of ISN, Alain GARNIER, President of EFEL (Entreprendre en France pour l'édition logicielle) and CEO of Jamespot, Jean-Manuel ROZANPresident QWANT, Thierry EVANNODirector of the Innovation City and Head of Alcatel-Lucent Investments,...

 
In the space of a few years, the Internet has become the backbone of our societies and a major lever for economic, social and cultural transformation. The recent debates around the Intelligence Act have also highlighted the need for our political leaders to acquire a culture of technological issues. Indeed, these debates have shown that the consequences of technological choices remain difficult to understand for citizens... and for their representatives. However, this appropriation of technological issues remains the only way to prevent the mechanisms governing European democracies from becoming "black boxes" for citizens.
 
"Trust on the Internet is the cornerstone of the economic functioning of the Internet and also the backbone of the functioning of democracies."
 
In France, the Intelligence Act came into force two years after the revelations about the surveillance measures put in place by the NSA. These revelations also called into question the "fundamental pillars" of trust on the Internet. This trust constitutes the keystone of the economic functioning of the Internet and also the backbone of the functioning of democracies.
Thus, the creation by the NSA of flaws in cryptographic algorithms has generated new risks for all Internet users. Indeed, these flaws are "agnostic" and are just as accessible to security agencies as they are to cybercriminals. As Snowden notes, NSA programs have made our businesses, our critical infrastructure... and our data even more vulnerable. So, as the Harvard Kennedy School review summarizes: "Bad crypto is bad for you and very good for the bad guys. The economic consequences of this crisis are such that the federal agency in charge of developing encryption standards (NIST), wanted to emancipate itself from the NSA. At the same time, the technology industry lost major international contracts and solemnly addressed the Government. The United States has called for a "clear, unequivocal and definitive end to mass surveillance".
 
"It is becoming essential for citizens to be able to exercise sovereignty over both infrastructure and technology.
 
In France, the intelligence law has also revealed the use by intelligence services of "black boxes", algorithms that collect and analyse metadata from Internet users. 
 
 
Bernard Benhamou, Secretary General of the Institute for Digital Sovereignty (editorial extract from No. 1)
 
The publications and recommendations of the Institute for Digital Sovereignty are prepared by thematic working groups, composed of experts, academics, business leaders, etc. 
These thematic working groups aim to formulate recommendations for citizens, industrialists and economic actors, public institutions, elected officials and political decision-makers.
The working groups are constituted on the recommendation of the Scientific Council of the ISN, or on the proposal of one of the constituent members of the ISN. These groups will audition qualified personalities.
 
 

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