The anonymity, transparency, freedom and its limits, and internet neutrality were in particular central at the conference on ICT and Geopolitics organized by EPITA last March. Current issues relating to the evolution of the Internet have been reviewed and analyzed from a social and political angle. Between opening and closing, tolerance and restraint: the question of borders and boundaries was more than ever at the heart of the subject.
Topics such as the Arab Spring, the Anonymous or Piracy were discussed during this conference at EPITA on March 22. Two round tables were on the agenda: the first dealt with the security problems posed by the issues of transparency and the protection of freedoms, the second focused on the challenges posed by the rise of cloud computing, the open source and open data to businesses and governments and more generally to security professionals. Back on the first debate with fellow guests Pascal Herard, journalist at www.reflets.info, Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net, Frederic Bardeau, founder of LIMITE for responsible advertising, co-author of “Anonymous” (FYP Editions) and Lionel Auroux, with EPITA’s Safety Laboratory System (LSE).
Lionel Auroux, on the Internet Culture
Internet: a Culture of Freedom
Lionel Auroux reminded that Internet conveyed its own culture, after that of the first hackers, “the concept of security does not exist initially. The business of securing the canvas was inconsistent with the original intent. Hence the reaction of the hacker community, technology enthusiasts interested in preserving their identity. Today, the Internet is a haven for freedom of expression within a media system increasingly locked. ” He continued:” The Internet is related to the imaginary adolescent transgression. It is a natural weapon for Generation Y “. For Jérémie Zimmermann, “citizens have appropriated and transformed the Internet into space policy. It is now a question of preserving this area of freedom. The potential outrage created by the Internet is proportional to the violence against freedom of expression. “
Jérémie Zimmermann, on Freedom of Expression
Internet Under Surveillance?
This spirit of freedom consubstantial to Internet hinders governments, particularly draconian and authoritarian governments. Herard Pascal reminds us that “in Tunisia, the authorities in place have not hesitated to resort to censorship, filtering and further to the arrest and torture of cyber protestors, using as scapegoat terrorism, child-pornography, pornography, and defamation. “
The symbol of this policy in Tunisia is the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI), with to its avail hardware and software that can scan and analyze everything that goes over the network. “Such devices were also in place in the Libya of Qaddafi and in Syria. Hackers have in turn provided themselves with devices to detect rumors and verify their validity,”says Pascal Herard.
Pascal Herard, on the Tunisian Revolution
A Cyberspace Policy
The fact remains that the freedom available on the Internet poses real societal issues. “Too much liberty kills liberty”? The absence of truly effective management of the Internet allows counterfeiting to flourish and threatens the rights of authors and media neutrality. “In response, governments establish legal frameworks such as laws SOPA PIPA and the United States, ACTA and Hadopi in France, and interception technologies,” says Zimmermann.
The strategies used by Internet users to fight against the influence of policy and power in the network range from the action of militant bloggers in dictatorships to those of the Anonymous in democracies. Frederic Bardeau describes these as “hacktivists” (to hack, to pirat): “they have no voice, face, structure. They are heirs to a culture of anonymity to own a part of activism, but also the basis of cyberculture, and bearer of tolerance, freedom of expression and meritocracy. Anonymity, liberating and empowering, cannot be judged on its appearance. “
The actions of the Anonymous recall on those of traditional activists transposed into cyberspace: we can relate the blocking of website such as the suffered by Facebook’s blackout on March 7 to a sit-in or the occupation of a factory for example. Conversely, a spokesman for Greenpeace was able to identify the intrusion made by militants in the Flamanville Central in physical hacking.
How should the Internet evolve to overcome the debate between control and freedom? Control of Internet remains a critical issue that faces a structural deadlock, identified by Frederic Bardeau: “Internet is a problem of territoriality. Internet is a transnational space in which the Balkanized .com replaces the geographical area.”
A number of suggestions were made by politicians such as the control end of the chain, parental control, to avoid breaching the private liberties, the concept of open Government, open data, to integrate the political universe in the Internet ecosystem or supervision of service providers to ensure neutrality. Reflection is still far from complete.