For 15 years La Quadrature du Net has been defending everyone’s rights and fundamental freedoms in the digital age. These 15 years of struggle would not have been possible without you — thank you so much! And we need you to keep fighting in 2024!
You probably already know the topics that we have been working on for the past fifteen years: the never-ending attacks against Net neutrality, the criminalization of the sharing of cultural works since the infamous Hadopi law of 2008 in France, the exploitation of personal data and the tyranny of online advertising, state censorship and surveillance of the Web, as well as the rise of the ‘Technopolice’ in every street, along with drones and algorithmic video-surveillance.
But new subjects have come to the front, and new fronts have been reactivated where we feel we can play a useful role
We have seen public administrations arm themselves with algorithms in an absurd war against the poor and “fraudsters”, with the effect of amplifying structural discrimination, all under the pretext of fake modernity, pseudo-efficiency and so-called “dematerialization” of paper work.
We have seen the logic of surveillance sneak in every corner and extend to all aspects of our public and intimate lives. Firstly for the needs of an advertising escalation, which has transformed the Web into a gigantic shopping mall — where each of our curiosities, each of our interests and each of our romantic or friendly relationships becomes the issue of a sale, of a product, or a “service” that is ever more useless and eccentric. And then, and above all, for the needs of a state power much too happy to exploit our countless digital traces to better monitor us, know us, and anticipate our political and social behaviors.
Faced with these challenges, we want to expand new projects in 2024 — without forgetting those on which we are already working.
First, we will continue to publicise the idea of an interoperable Web and take it ever further and ever higher (that’s good, we’re entering an Olympic year in France…). The open, desintermediated and horizontal Internet of the beginnings, which was an actually-existing thing, has found itself placed in “silos” by large platforms and private social networks in the last fifteen years (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram of course, but also YouTube, among others.).
Today, leaving one of these networks means losing the relationships and communications that are the essence of the Web. But if the different services are interoperable, you can move out without losing sight of anyone, and choose the environment in which you feel free to express yourself without being subjected to the kind of hostility and control that keeps the platforms alive and destroys the social fabric. We will stubbornly carry this simple idea, which already has a technical reality in the Fediverse for example, until European and French laws make it a basic principle of the Web and the Internet in general.
We will also continue our work of investigation and fight against algorithms of social control until they are a thing of the past. Today, “scoring” or profiling algorithms track the beneficiaries of social minima, whether at the CAF (public support for families), at Pôle Emploi (for the unemployed) or elsewhere. They turn the lives of the most precarious people into hell, all under the pretext of fighting against ‘abuses’. But these digital tools only serve to introduce a very detailed surveillance of the most ordinary lives to challenge people’s rights and criminalize their behaviors. Digital technology must not be an accomplice to a social policy that dehumanizes people. We will do everything to ensure that these dangerous tools are replaced by a desire for humanity and for a fairer and more loving society.
We will also defend, wherever necessary, the right to encryption of data and communications. This is an old motto of governments of all stripes. The “black cabinet” was once a metaphorical yet real secret place where the police discreetly read opponents’ letters before putting them back into circulation. Digital technology made it theoretically all-seeing. But thanks to data encryption, secrecy was fortunately reclaimed.
Without encryption of communications, anyone with a little determination can access the jokes and photos taht you share with your family, the ongoing scientific exchanges between researchers, the discussions in political groups or unions, etc. Secrecy of communications is one of the pillars of a well-tempered democracy: total transparency of opinions under the all-seeing state is exactly the definition of a police regime. For a thousand reasons, including the fact that it is a fundamental right, we must therefore defend our right to encryption and secrecy against all security and police sophisms. And the more governments will want to force this popular right to secrecy to oblivion, the more urgent reasons we will have to protect it.
Finally, we can no longer ignore the immediate and major dangers that our digital lifestyle collectively poses to the conditions of our survival, and that of countless other species. The ecosystems of which we are a part are failing on all sides. We know it, we see it, and digital overproduction plays a large part in this unfolding disaster. Driven by the uncontested cult of growth and permanent novelty, digital technology implies a colossal and polluting industry, destroying our lands and our lives, to fuel our intoxication with screens and seamless connectivity.
From cobalt and lithium mines to the warehouses of global distribution giants, from the consumer frenzy to the attention economy that holds us back with addictive processes, digital technology is today undoubtedly a factor of destruction as much as of exchanges, freedom and knowledge. We must therefore give back to “digital” the weight of its physical body, to “dematerialization” its materiality, and reflect on the tools and uses which need to be saved, preserved, cultivated or invented, and those which we must give up.
And we won’t stop there. Our ‘Technopolice’ campaign will experience twists and turns with the upcoming experiments of algorithmic video surveillance legalized by the Olympic Games law. We also want to participate more resolutely in the fight against the growing digital surveillance of political activists in France. Finally, we plan to open a front against “Artificial Intelligence” which is spreading like wildfire without any organized resistance being able to resist it.
Now you know how valuable your support and donations will be to our work!
The team of La Quadrature du Net