Is Internet freedom at risk?

Is Internet freedom at risk?

After the Prism revelations, personal data security has become a global issue. How to regulate the Internet freedom against the Internet giants and the governments is now a global concern.

Will 2014 mean the end of Internet freedom? Today, personal data are accessible to everyone, through our posts on Facebook, our online shopping on Amazon and our search requests on Google. By adding Apple, we reach the “Gafa”, these four multinationals that dominate the Internet industry. And these four American giant companies do collect and analyze personal data for commercial purposes.

Since mid-2013, Edward Snowden revelations about the Prism case have created a huge wave of indignation, as we discovered that since 2007, the NSA and the FBI had access to the Web giants’ national servers and were able to view information about their users, worldwide.

Internet regulation and data protection have become economic and ethics high stakes. At the World Policy Conference in Monaco in mid-December, Carl Bildt , the Swedish Foreign Minister stated that “the next battle for freedom in the world will be the battle for Internet freedom.” Indeed, some of the new powers, such as China and Russia, want to bury the current governance system to do what they want on the Net, even if this may imply content censorship.
Within the European Community, the debate is heated. Early December, Viviane Reding, Vice- President of the European Commission responsible for Justice, strongly protested against the Member States.
“Ministers fell on the protection of data,” she stated on Twitter in the wake of a meeting with the EU Ministers of Justice.
“The Council went into hibernation.” This threatens, as she said, the principle of a “single window” ensuring the rules for cross-border transfers of personal data collected in the EU countries. This approach is meant of course to fight the GAFA as the American giants have engaged in a standoff with Brussels to counter such measure.

In France, the adoption of the law on military programming (LPM) by the Senate only aggravated an already heated debate: the text has been approved by the institution on December 10th, to the dismay of many digital players. Article 13, which aims at enhancing access to computer data information services created such discord.

Companies are trying to be transparent and promote more ethical use of personal information, identifying a risk of a loss of confidence among users, leading to a risk both in terms of business and image.
Other challenges exist, such as cyber-warfare and cyber- terrorism, with increasing number of malwares, becoming so powerful that they can infiltrate the major infrastructure networks (water, energy, transport…) and can paralyze a country.
Anticipating and managing these risks will be key challenges in the future.

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