Atlantico: In a world where words are preserved, from phone conversations to tweets to emails, Rick Falkvinge points out that today’s socially accepted remarks may be used in the future against their author. Is this really something to be feared? Dominique Wolton: There are several contradictions between democracy and technological news:
The competition between the media (news channels, etc.) and the networks means that everyone is looking for information on anything what: it is the peopolisation, the race to all that one wants. Then, social networks increase the visibility of everything because everyone tells something. And new technologies also have an infinite memory and lead to traceability.
And, new disease of democracy: everyone tells something. We are in a logic of the direct, in the utopia of direct democracy: we will remove all useless intermediaries (journalists, media, politicians, etc.). The speed and illusion of democracy further accentuate the phenomenon.
It is considered democratic to express oneself. But what gets stuck is that everyone speaks. And that we consider it democratic to express ourselves. So this expression, the more the competition, the more the logic of the direct, the more the visibility, the more the technical memory, all this returns at a certain moment. What is serious is the idea that representative democracy is old, corrupt, outdated and that thanks to technology, we will have a direct, interactive democracy.
That’s completely demagogic, but it works very well. Whereas intermediaries, in a democracy, play a fundamental role. And from this point of view, President Macron does not stop wanting to remove intermediaries. He is alone with the people. And that’s prodigiously dangerous, that’s what’s more demagogic.
Pierre-Marie Coupry: Rick Falkvinge’s analysis begins by pointing out the immediate consequences of the digital surveillance of citizens by state agencies. In the United States, the FBI relied on a misinterpreted Facebook message to charge black activist Raken Balogun, put him on trial and jail him for several months before giving up charges. It shows how the growing storage of personal data can make us immediately guilty, before even talking about “delayed guilt”.
However, we consciously, consciously, or even unconsciously contribute to the digital storage of our lives for almost 20 years now. In fact, the exploitation of personal data has been at the heart of Google’s business model since the launch of its AdWords advertising network in October 2000. A race for data has intensified with the emergence of social networks, and in particular of Facebook in 2004.
All of our connected devices constantly track down our actions and store them over the long term. Tools exist to manage their data, but people do not think about it, or do not know. Just take a look at Google map to see that all your travels and places visited, avowable or not, are stored.
The risk of becoming guilty tomorrow because morals have evolved is there. I advise to erase them because they are not useful elsewhere. While hoping that these deletions do not turn against us one day, being interpreted as “something to hide”!
In addition to the management of account settings on applications and emails, it should be remembered that the law for a digital Republic of October 7, 2016, also allows better management of their data. It affirms the principle of control by each of its data and establishes the right to be forgotten for minors. Finally, it allows to anticipate the management of personal data after his death. In this sense, data held by private actors is less dangerous if everyone takes the time to manage them.
We saw it with the Mennel affair: everyone is free to hold almost the words he wants as long as he is not a public figure. Therefore, in the digital age, is freedom of expression a shame?
Dominique Wolton: Of course. This is a perverse effect planned by anyone. We have fought for centuries to have freedom of expression, but now we feel that since we have it, everything is more true. But it’s wrong.
The bastards, the perverts, the crooked ones express themselves as much as the others, and they even have more weight.
Pierre-Marie Coupry: Is it the digital that generates this restriction of the freedom of expression or the evolution of society’s expectations towards its public figures? I can not say, but certainly, public figures now have to proactively manage their online reputation.
But e-reputation ultimately concerns everyone, because we do not know what “will be held against you” and we must learn to master the fingerprint Without all erase, we can already qualify. In addition, Article 40 of the Data Protection Act provides for the possibility of requesting the deletion of personal data if they are inaccurate, incomplete, equivocal or out of date. It takes effort, but the technologies are potentially controllable. Facebook has recently changed its settings in this direction,
Another great principle of our democracies, the presumption of innocence seems to be undermined in the digital era, as far as surveillance is concerned.
Everyone is therefore indirectly watched, whether they are suspected of breaking the law or not. Is it likely to jeopardize the fundamental freedoms established so dear to Western democracies?
Dominique Wolton: We prefer security to freedom. Security is the cameras, the files. And for now, people prefer that to security. At best, we sacrifice the stakes of democracy. And we risk getting to the ultimate bullshit of Mr. Trump that is to say: if we armed all Americans, we would not have student massacres every three months in our colleges.Pierre-Marie Coupry: The case of activist Raken Balogun mentioned above perfectly illustrates this danger, and even if it is about a known activist of the FBI, one must realize that we are all potentially concerned by the fact to be innocent today, but perhaps guilty tomorrow, without our knowledge.