The very idea that algorithms can be used to fight terrorism unleashes passions, resurfacing all fears related to the establishment of a "Big Brother" state, a machine tracking everyone's conversations.
Concretely, what are we talking about?
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The objective is to be able to collect, process, analyze and cross-check a large number of anonymous technical elements to detect low-intensity signals on the raw data which would testify to a threat to national security",
underlined the rapporteur of the bill, Jean-Jacques Urvoas. This involves an automatic and almost instantaneous analysis of the connections made on different websites. In the case of the fight against terrorism, the consultation of sites advocating violence, or any content in favor of acting out, can be identified as a weak signal. Repeated connections constitute an alarm. These data are analyzed and processed by algorithms, comparable to artificial intelligences. But the subject is so epidermal that the government is careful not to use this term.
The black boxes which constitute the monitoring device do not read the messages but analyze their progress. Part of the difficulty comes from the proliferation of encrypted sites and messaging. The system is based on the internet addresses of the sites consulted and on those of the users. Indeed, the information relating to the latter is "pseudonymized". It was only in the event of a clear threat that anonymity would be lifted. On the other hand, in the event that there is no serious element confirming the existence of a threat, the data exploited would be destroyed within sixty days. Another problem with the legal text, when Gérald Darmanin explains that the monitoring algorithms will be extended to URLs (internet addresses of sites), it is technically possible, but prohibited in France,under the provisions of the law of January 6, 1978, relating to data processing, files and freedoms.
The use of algorithms is part of everyone's daily life.
An online research mobilizes this technology.
Google explains that a whole series of algorithms are used.
To provide the most useful information, search algorithms take into account many factors, such as the words used in your query, the relevance and usability of the pages, the level of expertise of the sources, your position and your settings
But for the research to be effective and to avoid bias, not all the mechanics are detailed by the American giant, which keeps its manufacturing secrets.
There are plenty of other apps, like when Netflix recommends a show from those you've already watched.
If the use of these computer programs has become commonplace, their use by a State bristles the libertarians of the Web. The fear of many observers of the sector, represented in particular by the association La Quadrature du net, is to see the use of algorithms by the State be extended to other areas, beyond the fight against terrorism. They prefer banning these digital tools to installing safeguards.