Since the event began, few mentions have been made of digital technology, its players and the social aspects of its development, but it remains a subject that has expressed many disagreements.
Numbers are a blind spot for the president. However, the importance of this industry – and the importance of giants such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft (GAFAM) or TikTok – has been further reinforced by the pandemic and war in Ukraine. However, as we questioned the candidates’ teams and scrutinized their plans, questions and disagreements arose, in sovereignty, online advertising, e-commerce, digital currencies… The first round of voting is still a month away, and time to discuss, as some candidates have done, on Wednesday 9 March, during the “Pitch”, organized by the professional association Convergence Numeriques.
Data and Sovereignty
The idea of securing French “digital sovereignty” is consensus. But specifically, almost all candidates criticized the “trusted cloud” doctrine the government defined in June for government ministries and public actors: this promotes “hybrid” services, where users are hosted in structures governed by European law. The data, but using data from the US giant, is considered “more efficient”.
Jean-Luc Melenchon (La France insoumise) proposes the creation of a “French cloud, made of free software, enforced by the public and strategic sectors”. For Marine Le Pen (National Rally) “public strategic projects (eg military) must be awarded to French companies”. Valerie Pecresse (Les Republicains) proposes to reserve 50% of public sector cloud hosting tenders for European participants. All three, along with Yannick Jadot (European Ecology – Les Verts), Anne Hidalgo (Socialist Party) or Eric Zemmour (Reconquest!), defended the “Buy Europe Act”, the Community Preference. Emmanuel Macron is in favour of it too, but we at Bessie warn that this protectionism is “involuntary” in Europe.
Several candidates also defended tighter controls on acquisitions of French companies by American giants and the Chinese. Ms Pecresse wants to submit them to the “High Commission for Economic and Digital Sovereignty”. Marine Le Pen will be ready to force GAFAM to open up the capital of its subsidiaries to local companies, as US President Donald Trump did with TikTok. For his part, Mr. Melenchon wants to “restore public ownership” of Alcatel Submarine Networks, which lays undersea internet cables. Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (Debout la France) dreams of owning a Google and French social network.