Surveillance, innovation and user trust

My colleague Alexandra Combes writes: Some time ago I learnt that my long lost friend Jeremie Zimmermann would no longer be a spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net, a French organisation defending citizen rights on the Internet. I got to know...

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My colleague Alexandra Combes writes:

Some time ago I learnt that my long lost friend Jeremie Zimmermann would no longer be a spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net, a French organisation defending citizen rights on the Internet. I got to know Jeremie in Paris in 2003 while I was writing my Masters dissertation on the Copyright Directive (EUCD) and then again one year later in Brussels, where he was a great support to my work on the Software Patents Directive during my internship at the European Parliament.

I was wondering which horizons he could possibly now be heading towards when a video caught my attention, "Nothing To Hide". In it, we see Jeremie and a French singer performing a song together. The song is built around a frequently heard attempt to justify massive surveillance, “if you have nothing to hide, there is nothing you should worry about” - simultaneously demonstrating that the opposite is true.

While I was at first amused by this new eccentricity from my compatriot, I had to admit that the digital freedoms theme is still sadly lacking in the musical landscape. Such an initiative can thus only be applauded as an excellent step forward in terms of education. Diversified approaches are essential for a better understanding of the challenges related to our digital environment.

One part of the song particularly deserves our attention: "Things we want to keep for ourselves belong to our intimacy", says Jeremie. "This is where we can experiment with theories, hypothesis. The place where we can say ‘what if’... and then change our mind and say ‘ah, no’. This is where lies what one could call creativity, and this is what is threatened when we feel under surveillance -- when we are under surveillance".

What he refers to here is at the heart of the meshed society's balance; the relationship between privacy and creativity. This is part of the ultimate bridge between human rights and market interests, making action promoting one relevant for advocates of the other. The negative impact of massive surveillance on both innovation and user trust is of crucial concern. It’s time for businesses to stand together with civil society and raise a united voice for mankind's sake, blending social and commercial concerns into one cry of “enough”.

(Turn on English subtitles via the icon on the right-hand-lower bar once playing)

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