“We need to develop a new Internet architecture”

Tribune. In recent weeks, discussions in the US Congress, then in the European Parliament, have once again highlighted the harmful effects of social networks. Once again, the Parliaments of the Western world are looking for answers to the damage caused by these platforms, linked from the outset to the flaws in their design. Once again, policymakers and leaders in Silicon Valley are questioning whether there is increased oversight and strict regulation. The other way would be to see these digital giants modify their practices by themselves and voluntarily. But that will not happen. And again, the debate centers on how to mend a model that is undeniably and irreparably shattered.

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It is high time to overtake this technological infrastructure, because it generates its profits from damage. The Internet has indisputable advantages, but its current model distorts the economic system by appropriating our personal data and selling it to the highest bidder. Social media spoils public discourse by prioritizing clicks over truth and making disinformation and outrage more profitable than fact. The technology is designed for the benefit of the platforms; it ignores the individual. It transforms our lifestyles without our knowledge and erodes civic institutions supposed to strengthen the cohesion of our societies. All of these ills have a disproportionate impact on those who are already vulnerable; they have a toxic inequality effect. The result is a loss of confidence, which threatens our democracies. It’s time to fix the problem, once and for all.

Big Tech has kept its promise: “Go fast and break everything”. It is an irreversible, irreparable situation which cannot be dealt with by simple regulation. Instead of trying to fix a broken model, we need to craft a new Internet architecture, imagined and built on a more equitable basis, in a positive spirit. The goal is to completely reset our technological model in order to develop a new approach by placing the user at the center of the project. It is a question of optimizing it to guarantee access and equity, with a constant concern for the common good.

New governance

It may sound daring. But today it is within our reach. It is already possible to build an open source Web protocol. From its conception, it would transfer control of personal data to individuals. It would encourage developers to innovate by enabling all users to directly benefit from the economic value of their data. With a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach, we can bring together technologists, social science experts, ethicists, lawyers and economists to imagine a new governance framework that can chart the course of this next digital generation based on “technology. ethics ”in order to make progress sustainable in the long term. With the support of qualified figures and institutions, we can build momentum for change prioritizing people over platforms, opening up new avenues and bringing to life fruitful social, economic and civic engagement.

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