The Big Oral of Online Presidential Candidates

Five minutes to talk about each candidate spit Her digital program is followed by ten minutes of questions and answers. A meticulous agenda punctuated by a bell mercilessly chanting the end of the allotted time, even if it means boycotting candidates who might be tempted by excess.

This is the format chosen on Wednesday evening by the Convergences Numériques group (comprising 11 major associations and professional organization of the French digital sector) to cook up the presidential candidates on their vision for the new technology industry.

With the exception of Marine Le Pen, all the main candidates were present: Valerie Pecres, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, Yannick Gadot, Eric Zymour and Ann Hidalgo. Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Emmanuel Macron were represented respectively by Bastien Lachaud, Member of Parliament for the 6th arrondissement of Seine-Saint-Denis, and Cédric O, Minister of State for Digital Transformation and Electronic Communications. Each takes turns, for a little over two hours, to express themselves in a central ring surrounded by the audience, exposing their visions and answering questions from moderators and spectators.

Data supremacy is at the heart of discussions

The international context obliges, that the issue of the country’s digital sovereignty naturally imposed itself as one of the big bets for the next five-year term for the candidates. The issue of data storage, in particular, has been hotly debated.

Thus, most of the candidates expressed their dissatisfaction with the Gaia-X European sovereign cloud project. Launched by France and Germany, it aims to create the cloud infrastructure in Europe in order to host the data of European companies and citizens. However, it has drawn a lot of criticism because it is open to US and Chinese cloud giants: Microsoft, Google, Huawei and Alibaba.

It is difficult to talk about the sovereign cloud when the personal data of European citizens is transmitted to the United States He immediately attacked Yannick Gadot. ” The lack of jurisdiction in US law means that the government can access this data under certain conditions, a risk highlighted in particular by Shrems II’s ruling. ‘, to the ecopole filter, in reference to the US CLOUD Act.

The health data center is under fire from critics

A note shared by Eric Zemmour, who wants the most expensive (healthy) data (both regular and military) and private to be hosted on French servers. but also by Valerie Pecres, who claims to want ” Building a Brick by Brick French Sovereign Cloud for 2030 Given that the task will be difficult.

The Republican candidate also touched on the Health Data Hub, a project launched by the current government, which aims to collect most of the health data of the French people on a single platform in order to aid research, which Cnil has halted. January. ” I did not accept the Microsoft Health Data Center No Bidding Grant This is said by Valérie Becresse, who proposes to strengthen the European preference in the French public system, and to impose a quota of 50% of European products in relation to software and digital infrastructure.

He also criticized Bastien Lachaud. scandal from Health Data Hub confirmed that “ We must equip ourselves with data centers under French law to allow our companies to protect their data from predation. We have strong enough players in the sector to make this happen. »

There is no European consensus on the cloud, according to Cedric O

For his part, Cedric O noted that it is currently difficult to compose without the American cloud giants. ” It is a market in which we face a tension that is very difficult to resolve: on the one hand, it is important for the European champions to emerge around this technology. On the other hand, our companies must be able to access the best cloud services in the world in order to win the international competition. Go and ask the French businessmen if they will agree to dispense with the super Americans, they will all answer no! »

The Secretary of State for Digital Transformation also noted that there is currently no EU-wide consensus on this issue, making any progress long and difficult. ” Whoever tells you that we will be able to have a true European sovereign cloud in a year or that we will be able to set a 50% limit on public cloud demand on a European scale are liars. We have tried for five years and will continue to try, but not all Member States have the same view of the matter. »

Protectionism in the Service of Creating National Heroes

All candidates also agreed on the need to highlight the French and European champions of technology, without which the concept of European digital sovereignty would remain a mirage. To do this, some suggest resorting to a protectionist strategy, drawing inspiration from methods applied elsewhere. ” I am proposing the creation of a Supreme Council for Digital Sovereignty, which will decide when a French tech company is threatened with seizure by a foreign country, and that’s what the Chinese and Americans are doing, and it’s working. ”, and thus Valerie Pecres suggested.

I am in favor of blocking the acquisition when there is a risk of losing knowledge of our country ”, added Nicolas Dupont-Aignan. For the sovereign candidate, encouraging the emergence of national giants also means stopping the bleeding of talent, for example by increasing the salaries of French researchers to prevent them from traveling abroad, especially to the United States.

A goal favored by Eric Zemmour too. ” Two programs provide two metrics that go in this direction: exemption from social fees for the first two hirings of a company, as well as bonuses paid to employees. This will allow startups to pay their employees better wages and thus prevent them from traveling abroad. »

Valerie Becresse, for its part, proposes the creation of an investment fund to direct French savings towards strategic digital companies, while Cédric Ou wants to make Paris ” The underwriting capital of Europe ‘particularly in’ Adoption of shares with multiple voting rights so that the founders of start-up companies wish to offer their shares for public subscription in Paris. »

Education is the cornerstone of digital sovereignty

A consensus has also emerged on the need to reform education in order to boost the emergence of talent that will fuel the French digital ecosystem. ” Code has become a living language, which is why the President of the Republic recently announced that it will be taught from grade 5 to all students. “, recalled Cedric O, before emphasizing that Emmanuel Macron’s goal would be” Training 500,000 digital experts during his next five-year term.

Valerie Pecresse suggests for her part: Identifying talents from the second year, directing them towards strategic digital sectors, at all levels of qualification, from the professional baccalaureate to higher education ‘, a device that falls under the purview of the districts. The Republican candidate also fired the red balls at the Blanker reform and insisted on the need to reintroduce mathematics into the common core of the baccalaureate.

A procedure that seems to agree with all the candidates, from Eric Zemmour to Jean-Luc Mélenchon. ” The Blanquer reform is a disaster for gender equality in digital technology, and we see for example that many high school girls have stopped studying mathematics after the reform, which will make it difficult for them to integrate into the ‘industry’. However, 50% of gamers today are women, which shows that they have a real appetite for new technologies. Bastien Lachaud confirmed. Anne Hidalgo also said she wants to reform high school to direct more female students towards digital careers, lamenting that this sector is still overwhelmingly male.

Little strange cyber security reminds

Despite the war currently raging in Ukraine, which is also happening on the Internet, cybersecurity has been relatively non-existent during the discussions. Valerie Pecres was the only one who really insisted on the question. ” The war in Ukraine shows us that our satellites can be attacked, that our submarine cables can be cut, and that war is also an information war. “, declared the candidate, who is proposing to create a prosecutor’s office dedicated to cyber security to allow the police to go.” Find all human traffickers who use the web to break the law. »

Eric Zemmour also insisted on the importance of strengthening our defenses on the web, but this goal, in his opinion, must be based on the expertise of companies specialized in this field. Cedric O noted that 95% of cyber attacks can be avoided with the right gestures, and insisted on the need to conduct awareness campaigns to encourage the public to avoid clicking on links sent by strangers and to adopt secure passwords.

For a green digital device

Finally, left-wing candidates have also alternately advocated the need for a more inclusive digital build (particularly by reducing the digital divide through rural infrastructure investments) and greener. ” Instead of storing data centers near the pole for cooling, they can be placed in service of heating networks Yannick Gadot suggested, while Bastien Lachaud confirmed his desire to fight the planned obsolescence, without proposing concrete measures in this direction.

Anne Hidalgo, for her part, proposes the launch of ” Big digital industrial epic “, with targeted investments according to the needs of the regions, on a model that brings together” Economic, ethical and environmental responsibility The Socialist candidate also insisted on the importance of working on a European scale to intensify the fight against monetization of our data and to strengthen technological sobriety in the digital world.

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