News and informations about Internet

La Quadrature du Net opens to new members

Paris, 12 march 2018 - As announced in November 2017, in the conclusions to the summary of its first ten years [FR], La Quadrature du Net has formally incorporated around thirty of its valued partners as members. Most of them long-term volunteers, these members joined the organisation at the beginning of January 2018, at the invitation of the office and its paid employees.

This expansion brings a new burst of momentum and reinforces the organisation. Thanks to a greater range of sensitivities and areas of expertise, many questions at the heart of La Quadrature's action will benefit from having new light shed upon them. Quite a few members have already spoken out on behalf of La Quadrature in the media or at conferences and workshops.

A lot remains to be done, particularly in terms of organisation and processes, but La Quadrature du Net intends to take the time needed for this discussion, far from the usual urgency with which the organisation is so familiar. We shall take advantage of our annual general assembly, which will take place from the 31st of March to the 2nd of April, to design a roadmap for our upcoming militant actions and to reflect upon the structures needed to carry them out successfully. A report of this first gathering will be made public, as will be done regularly for the outcomes of the members' actions.

Volunteer participation has always been at the heart of La Quadrature du Net's operations. This membership status hopes to progressively recognise those who invest their time and energy, by enabling them to play a part in the development of the general directions. This expansion is only a beginning. The political and legal underpinnings of a free Internet and the defense of fundamental liberties in the digital era can be pursued only thanks to everyone's engagement.

Source : | 14-Mar-2018 10:50

"Fake news" : bringing the European debate to the source of the problem

Paris, 2 March 2018 - The European Commission recently launched a consultation on “fake news and online disinformation” to which La Quadrature has responded. The current debate about these phenomena seems to be dominated by a prevailing confusion and risks to lead to measures restricting freedom of expression and the right to information. Nonetheless, the big platforms' system of commercial surveillance needs to be addressed seriously, as it disrupts public debate by treating our attention as a commodity.

A spectre is haunting American and European political leaders, the spectre of "fake news". Early in January, Emmanuel Macron announced future legilsation in order to prevent the spread of " false information ", especially during election period. The draft bill is supposed to be discussed in French National Assembly1 end of March.

The European Commission's consultation was closed on 23 February, and the results should lead up to a decision whether European legislation on this topic is needed or not. In parallel, the Commission appointed an expert group charged with submitting a report in March. Both measures exclusively target online content which is “lawful but false', without defining “false”.

To foster constructive debate around "fake news and online disinformation" we would like to remind five fundamental observations:

  1. The problem of disinformation is as old as political power itself: the influence of traditional mass media on political power, as well as their tendency to sensationalism, are not recent phenomena;
  2. There is no criteria to define an information in a reasonable way as "false", the veracity of an information should only be examined when this information causes a specific harm to an individual or the society as a whole;
  3. In the very way the Internet was conceived, it is a neutral network, and it differs from other media by the fact that it gives anyone the possibility to express themselves and leaves it up to users to control the information they receive;
  4. Internet could be a tool to considerably widen the public debate, but the automated regulation of this debate, driven by purely economical interests, is heavily detrimental in this regard: in order to sell their advertising spaces, dominant platform favour the spread of information that is most useful in targeting their users;
  5. The advertisment surveillance system of leading platforms, based on the "available brain time"2, turned Internet users, as well as traditional media readers, into commercial products. In this regard, it is not users but services themeselves that are responsible for the dissemination of information that is harmful to balanced public debate.

To tackle the problem of disinformation facing automated regulation of the public debate, it appears necessary to consider the following:

  1. In a democracy, the definition of one or multiple truths can only be established by society itself3 (whereby the multiple thruths do not need to be a coherent as a whole);
  2. The automated regulation of public debate by dominating plateforms is highly harmful to this democratic mechanism of establishing thruths, as the value of information is almost exclusively defined by the number of clicks it can generate;
  3. The fact that society, due to automated regulation, is less and less able to establish it's truths, should not lead to the point where this ability is entirely denied and where society is completly at mercy of censorship by governments loosing legitimacy and predatory platforms.

Rather than fighting evil with evil (by encouraging platforms to censorship without taking into account their business model), it is necessary to force platforms to interoperability with alternative platforms and to respect personnal data regulations (which would slow down their harmful influence on public debates).

As a matter of fact, the over-spreading of a certain type of information, according to opaque and purely economic criteria and thus not in terms of public interest, is the inevitable consequence of surveillance practices imposed by centralised platforms on their users. Yet, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides that a service provider cannot withhold it's service to a user only beacuse the latter does not consent to the analysis of his or her behaviour (see also the Article 29 Working Party's definition of freely given consent in it's Guidelines on EU Regulation 2016/679).

In this regard, the fact that GPDR coming into effect on the 25th of May is very good news. One can now hope to drastically limit the power of leading advertising platforms in terms of user surveillance, and to make "clickbait content", of which “fake news” are a subcategory, a lot less interesting.

See La Quadrature du Net's response [FR] to the consultation.

  • 1. French lower legislative house
  • 2. An expression made famous by Patrick Le Lay, former CEO of TF1, France's biggest TV channel
  • 3. The discussion between Socrates and Protagoras, reported in Plato's Protagoras, offers an interesting approach to question the origin of what we consider as “truths”: it may be an absolute or divine source (as suggested by Socrates), or – in an approach that would be qualified today as relativistic (as suggested by Protagoras) – Humanity itself which would then be “the measure of all things”, according to the famous concept

Source : | 06-Mar-2018 15:08

Founding Campaign 2017: Thank You, Everyone!

Paris, 19 February 2018 - Although admittedly our annual donation campaign did not reach its goal, thanks to our supporters we have managed to gather enough funding to pursue our work for another year. At the end of January, we had collected 220,758€ from individual donations, reaching 68% of our goal (320,000€). Our total budget for 2018 is estimated at 380,000€ and is presently covered 90% (of which 66% are from individual donations).1Thanks again to everyone who supporting us <3

The adventure goes on and we have a lot on our plate for the coming year: legislative debates, as well as technical, political and even philosophical discussions. The topics will be many but rarely new: surveillance and intelligence, the protection of personal data, freedom of speech, Net Neutrality...
Our next general meeting in early April will be the right time to refine this list and discuss which direction(s) La Quadrature du Net should take in the upcoming months.

In order to stay up to date and relevant at this critical moment in the history of digital technology, La Quadrature du Net needs to remain open and to reorganise, just as stated in the strategic review (in French) we published last November. If we intend to continue our legal work and litigation, we wish in parallel to develop our activities aimed to get as many as possible to take part in these debates. We are also going to rethink our strategical role and our tactics for digital emancipation, in order to help bring together activists from diverse causes and those building the free Internet, its developers, and its users and developers.

As you can see, we will keep on working on the political and legal defense of a free Internet and our fundamental rights in the digital age. And for this we will need, now and always, you and your support.
And we take this moment to remind you that if you decide to support La Quadrature du Net, a small recurring donation is worth more than a one-time donation, even if it's a bit bigger :-)

La Quadrature du Net

  • 1. This figure also includes the unspent part of last year’s individual donations still on hand when the campaign began on 14 November 2017.

Source : | 21-Feb-2018 17:47

Fake news: Macron's future law is dodging the real issue

12 January 2018, Paris - Last week, Emmanuel Macron announced a future law against the spreading of "fake news". By aiming for a rather cynical announcement effect, his proposals exemplify an actual lack of interest for a matter which, however, needs to be addressed seriously. The spreading of "fake news" as a symptom of distortion in public debates is caused by the commercial surveillance system of the big platforms - with which the established political parties perfectly got along so far.

Emmanuel Macron proposes that during election period a judge, if asked to, should be able to censor "fake news1" by any means, up to and including the blocking of a website.

With regard to current law, the interest for such proposals is especially dubious. The Law on the Freedom of the Press of 29 July 1881 already prohibits (even outside election period) the spreading of intentionally false information which defames someone or disturbs - or might disturb - public order in France2. Thus, beyond such kind of information, it seems very unclear what kind of "fake news" Macron wants to tackle.

Furthermore, the Law on Confidence in the Digital Economy of 2004 lays down that, in general, a French judge may oblige any hosting service, or failing that, any telecommunications operator, to take "all measures necessary to prevent or to end harm" caused by illicit content 3. The scope of this power is actually dangerously wide and hence, of course, covers content deletion as well as the blocking of an entire website.

Obviously, M. Macron's proposition solely aims for an announcement effect and does neither seek to tackle the spreading of "fake news", nor the fundamental problem of which it is a symptom. As a consequence, it is even more important that we consider the regulation of online platforms as serious as it is.

"Fake news": symptom of a wide-spread distortion of online debates

Emmanuel Macron's proposal is based on the idea that "nowadays, a couple of thousand euros is enough to effectively spread false information on social networks". Thereby, he ignores the debate's fundamental issue: it is the big social network's generally accepted business model itself which favors the (free) spreading of information distorting public debate - including fake news (and that all year, not just during election period).

Which content displays on your Facebook newsfeed, or which videos are suggested to you on YouTube, is defined by those platforms themselves. To monetize their services in the most profitable way, their business model has every interest in favoring certain texts, images or videos. In the first place, by spotlighting content which matches with the shared interests of a specific category of users, they are automatically able to profile other users also seeing this content.

As a result, once a user is classified, the platform can fine-tune that user's profile by showing him or her more and more precise content, enclosing the user in a more and more restricted bubble. Once identified, the user will then again serve the platform by spreading him or herself that arbitrarily assigned content - and inevitably contribute to the restriction of other users' freedom of choice.

At the same time, the platforms also have interest in pushing "clickbait" content: short, blunt and without any intention to contribute to relevant discussion, but merely to attract the user's attention. The quick and easy spreading of that kind of content provides many opportunities to analyse the users' interaction in order to shape more precise profiles.

In either case, the model of targeted advertising necessarily excludes the most subtle and qualified, but often the less shared opinions (as they are of interest to individuals which tend to be "too diverse" to be precisely targeted) from the debate. Once these positions are discarded, the propagation of caricatural positions being little thought-out, provocative or willingly misleading can hardly be stopped.

Lastly, the model of targeted advertising not only distorts public debate, but also functions as an instrument of choice for campaigns of political propaganda (see Cambridge Analytica's role in the Brexit vote and Trump's election as alarming examples). The picture is complete.

The spreading of false information is only the symptom of a much wider problem caused by targeted advertising. The quality of public debate depends on weither it can take place in a neutral space, where the whole range of opinions is not torn apart by business considerations. Emmanuel Macron's proposal only seeks to treat the symptom, and that in the most absurd way. As a consequences, we should find a remedy ourselves.

  • 1. we suggest defining "fake news" as information presented as serious and objective, but deliberately falsified or misrepresented.
  • 2. See articles 27 and 29 of the Law on the Freedom of the Press of 29 July 1881.
  • 3. See article 6, I, 8 of the Law on Confidence in the Digital Economy of 2004.

Source : | 12-Jan-2018 13:03

We still need you: La Quadrature du Net extends it's support campaign

Paris, 18 November 2017 - La Quadrature du Net decided to extend its yearly support campaign started on November 14th. As a matter of fact, the intended goal of 320 000 euros to pay for the year 2018 is far from being achieved: thus far, we've reached 50% of the funds needed. To help us defending human rights in the digital age, support La Quadrature du Net : donate and share !

One month ago, La Quadrature du Net launched its yearly donation campaign. We need your support in order to keep financially independant what like to cal our mission: the defence of our rights and freedoms in the digital era. On this topic, the upcoming year appears to be heavilly challenging.

Between steady attacks on net neutrality (fr), especially in the USA and numerous impeachements of the lawfullness of encryption (fr), we have to stay vigilant and ensure that the Internet will stay what it still is: the main access to information and a fundamental tool for emancipation.

At the European level, we will continue our cooperation with the FDN Federation and other european associative networks, in order to carry on with the the follow-up work on the Telecom Package and especially on the European Electronic Communications Code. Facing pressure from States and telecommunication lobbies, we will defend the counter-powers represented by alternative, decentralised and democratic models.

Also, La Quadrature du Net will continue its work on the futur ePrivacy Regulation (fr) and fight for our communications privacy.
This is an obstacle to the hegemonic claims (fr)made by the Internet giants and we will not cease to encourage Members of the European Parliament and the French government to protect this fundamental principle.

Simultaneously, the General Data Protection Regulation (which was adopted last year at European level and will have to enter into force by May next year at Member State level) will offer new and thrilling possibilities to attack the Internet giants. We will get ready and gear up for the construction of a free Internet in accordance with the respect of our private life and our freedom of expression and we will encourage emancipation in times of 'algorithms' seeking to dehumanise our social relationships.

In France, as elsewhere, an illegitimate state surveillance of the whole population is still ongoing, whether by future excessive security laws already announced by the french government, or by its unwillingness to repeal the current data retention rules infringing the law of the European Union for almost a year now. Also on this point, La Quadrature will not stay on the defensive and therefore is already bringing together as many actors as possible. We manifestly refuse (fr)to unlawfully collaborate with a heavy-handed and unjustifiable mass surveillance in terms of data retention.

On top of these fights, La Quadrature du Net will continue to give support to existing free and decentralised software. We will further on fight for legal security in this field, but also stress crucial issues linked to the functioning of our association, such as:

  • our tools, including the one's at public disposal : what to do with, how and what's the objective? Soon, as one of the outcomes of this more general reflection on the use of our tools, you will find our new website and a whole new press review;;
  • how to operate: we started only in 2017 to imagine new modes of operation which we will continue to implement in 2018 (poster campaigns, happenings...), with the help of everyone who wants to join ;
  • internal organisation: we proposed membership to a first group of people in order to build La Quadrature of the future, including simultaneously all the contributers and donaters in facing this challenge !

2018 is going to be a key year for La Quadrature du Net, and for that reason we need to obtain a certain budget ensuring a proper outcome of our work. For now, we've only reached around 50% of our intended goal and decided to extend this campaign. Therefore, we insistently ask YOU, the ones supporting our cause and actions, to spread the word and to explain to the people around you why our work is necessary.

To contribute to the defence and strenghtening of our rights and freedoms, call out for donations on (by the way: recurring donations permit better visibility on our budget and facilitate the planning of our projects).

Thank you <3

Source : | 19-Dec-2017 17:28

Copyright © 1994-2015 | Hosted by p2pweb
Other Sites : | African and caribbean news | Thematic News feed | European news