Copyright: Getting serious about Article 13 – Digital


Now things are getting serious about the so-called upload filters, because of which tens of thousands of people took to the streets around two years ago. In the Bundestag, which is currently transposing the relevant EU directive into national law, the discussion now revolves around wonderful German terms such as “blocking requests” and “barriers”, i.e. the regulatory details that should enable the Internet to remain usable despite upload filters . How complicated this is could be seen on Monday afternoon at a public hearing of experts in the Legal Affairs Committee.

This was preceded by the first debate in the plenary at the end of March, when Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) referred above all to the instrument of “presumably permitted uses”, a German invention. It should enable content to go online under certain conditions until the question has been clarified whether it is legally there or has to be blocked.

Critics fear a “systematic blocking of legal uses”

The legislature wants to create a balancing act between two opposing claims that the law makes on the platforms: On the one hand, they are now liable for copyright infringements and not, as before, the users, so they have to delete pirated copies on their own initiative; on the other hand, the law forbids them to prevent legal content from being uploaded. With this ban, the federal government apparently sees itself rid of the opposition’s accusation that it has broken its coalition promise to prevent upload filters. Because, as CDU digital politician Tankred Schipanski noted with fine emphasis in the plenary session, it was finally possible to “largely” prevent the “effects” of upload filters.

Not all experts are convinced of this. At the hearing in the Legal Affairs Committee, former MEP Julia Reda, a tireless critic of the reform, said that there would be a “systematic blocking of legal uses” if the Bundestag did not make improvements. According to her, the basic evil is that even “intelligent” upload filters cannot reliably differentiate between parody, quotation, pastiche and pirated copy, and permitted and forbidden use. And is that even their job? Sascha Schlösser, specialist lawyer for copyright and media law, warned in his statement that upload filters should replace copyright lawyers and that platforms should take over the function of courts. The platforms themselves also sat in the hall in the embodiment of a Google representative and complained that in future they should decide “as a judge, as it were” on contentious uploads.

The process should look like this: An upload to a large platform will first of all pass a filter that determines whether the platform operator has acquired licenses for the content in question. If not, the content will be blocked – unless it is “presumably allowed”. To do this, it must fall below a de minimis limit. It can only be a small snippet – shorter than 15 seconds or 160 characters, smaller than 125 kilobytes – within a new work that is at least twice as large. The user can also mark the content as legally permitted (“flag”) by asserting that it is, for example, a pastiche, including, according to the reasons for the draft law, “practices such as remix, meme, GIF, mashup, fan art, fan Fiction or Sampling “should be understood. Then the upload goes online, although the filter is effective – at least until a “trustworthy” rights holder presses a “red button” to contradict this interpretation.

Only the AfD is of the opinion that the federal government wants to “abolish” freedom of expression

The platform must now decide who is right. Is the present case still network culture or is it already a pirated copy? Such questions sometimes occupy courts for years. The draft law gives the platform seven days to do this. If it classifies the content as legal and a court should subsequently come to a different conclusion, it is liable for damages. In case of doubt, the platforms would therefore be blocked as a precaution, threatened the Google representative.

The fine-tuning of this procedure will probably determine the further path of the draft law by the Bundestag. The opposition has largely given up the fundamental opposition to the upload filters, only the AfD is of the opinion that the federal government wants to “abolish” freedom of expression through copyright law, as digital politician Joana Cotar put it. In the Federal Council, therefore, a motion to designate upload filters in their opinion as “wrong instrument” and “disproportionate” did not find a majority.

Rather, the federal states are worried that right holders will no longer be able to keep up with a glut of “presumably permitted uses” to check the content manually and, if necessary, to press the “red button”, for example during live broadcasts. In addition, the Chamber of States criticized the plan that the platforms should be able to outsource the complaint procedures to private complaints offices. “A complete withdrawal of government agencies from the settlement of disputes” appears “not appropriate in view of the concerns about structural overblocking”.

Julia Reda pointed out a practical application of the problems discussed in the committee meeting. A so-called “reaction video” by the lawyer Christian Solmecke recently appeared on Youtube, in which he deals with the song “This is all covered by artistic freedom” by rapper Danger Dan. The song is about hate, which, correctly worded, passes through as art in court. Solmecke checks the song line by line whether the statements made in it are really covered by artistic freedom. The lawyers from Warner Music, the rapper’s record company, saw this in turn not covered by the freedom to quote and had the video blocked – through the upload filter, without any legal basis, without “allegedly permitted uses”. According to Google, and only Google, should continue to do so. Upload filters are not bad, said media lawyer Christian-Henner Hentsch. In the end, it depends on how they are used.


High-end, rollable smartphones … How Oppo continues to conquer the French market


Since entering the French high-end smartphone market in 2018, the Chinese firm Oppo has continued to gain ground. With nearly 40,000 patents filed, the brand stands out for its technological innovations. This year, Oppo continues its offensive strategy with two new products that are gaining attention. Its Find X3 Pro 5G smartphone offers remarkable design, photo experience and performance. And in response to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold foldable smartphone launched in September 2019, the company unveiled an impressive “roll-up” smartphone prototype. What are these two products worth? Franceinfo was able to test them.

The Oppo Find X3 Pro 5G, an ultra high-end

Successor of the Oppo Find X2 Pro, the Oppo Find X3 Pro is a little gem of technology. On first use, the phone is light and practical with its 193 grams, a weight below most ultra high-end smartphones. The device also stands out in terms of its design: with its monocoque rear glass surface, the object is reminiscent of a mirror. With a big downside: the fingerprints, really too present. Better to go for the mat blue model.

A remarkable photo experience

It is in the photo that the Oppo Find X3 really shines. And for good reason: its display 10-bit native allows to capture a billion colors according to the manufacturer. Equipped with two 50 mega-pixel wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle sensors, the phone can take very high quality photos and videos.

From top to bottom: photo taken with the Oppo Find X3 with the wide angle lens, and ultra wide angle (Faustine Mazereeuw)

ISO, white balance, shutter speed and focus can be set manually. In automatic mode, the artificial intelligence is rather developed and does not distort too much the colors or the faces. For those, on the other hand, who love filters and smoothing effects, you can increase the “beautify rate” manually. The management of the distortion and the respect of the proportions are good. With its possibilities of capture in RAW and HEIF for the photo and in LOG for the video, the Oppo Find X3 Pro is particularly suitable for professional use and post-production.

Another amazing feature, although more of the gadget: a “microscope lens” which allows you to take pictures at a distance of a few millimeters from objects with a zoom x60.

From left to right: photo with the "microscope lens" of the Oppo Find X3 Pro of an office chair, a wooden chair, a blade of grass and a surgical mask.  (Faustine Mazereeuw)

Performance at the rendezvous

On the performance side, the new smartphone from the Chinese firm has nothing to be ashamed of. Its 5G Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor is one of the most advanced Android chips of the year. The smartphone works well and quickly even with several open applications. The 4,500mAH battery provides extremely fast charging, wired or wireless, all without overheating the device. So, 5 minutes of charging is equivalent to 4 hours of video.

Marketed since March 30, the Oppo Find X3 Pro is available at 1,149.90 euros, a price in the average of ultra high-end phones. The Chinese brand also declines this model in Neo and Lite version, less expensive. These ranges lose performance, battery and photo functionality. Thus, they do not include 10-bit photo capture, manual mode or the microscope lens.

The Oppo X 2021: a roll-up smartphone prototype

It is unheard of on the market. Oppo innovates with its “rollable” smartphone, which at first glance has nothing rollable … but seems rather stretchable. Out of its box, the Oppo X 2021 has everything a classic phone with classic dimensions, although a little massive: around 272 grams – the final weight is not yet fixed – for a 6.7-inch screen. It is when you pass your finger up and down on the right edge while pressing lightly that the magic operates. There, the screen stretches before our eyes until it reaches a size of 7.4 inches, a format similar to that of an e-reader.

Impressive technology

Inside the smartphone is actually a rod around which the screen wraps, while two plates slide over each other to make the phone bigger or smaller. So the screen doesn’t stretch, as it looks – it’s actually a flexible Oled screen that rolls up and unrolls like a papyrus. You have to “get the hang of it” to engage the mechanism with your finger, but once the gesture is understood, the adaptation is fluid and aesthetic, and the visual effect is stunning. And if we really do not succeed, the mechanism also engages thanks to a double click on the button located on the right edge.

Will the Oppo X 2021 find its audience?

It remains to be seen whether the market is ready for such a device. For the moment, no marketing date is planned: the Chinese firm first wishes to know the reception of the public. With this new phone, Oppo does not intend to remain at the stage of technological “gadget”, but to adapt to new uses. Thus, the Oppo X 2021 is particularly suitable for reading and watching video. It could also lend itself well to video games. Finally, by adding an on-screen keyboard, the smartphone offers enough visual comfort for word processing. From there to merging smartphone and computer into one device, there is only one step.



Cybercrime is the main risk to the economy, according to the boss of the US Central Bank


Jerome Powell clarified that the Fed is considering different types of cyber attack scenarios.

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“The world is changing. And so are the risks. And I would say the risk we watch the most is cyber risk.” The President of the US Central Bank is more worried about the risk of a large-scale cyberattack than of a 2008-like global financial crisis. Risks of a 2008-like crisis with banks in need of bailouts by governments “are very, very weak”, said Jerome Powell on the program “60 minutes” on the American channel CBS News.

“There are scenarios in which (…) the payments system cannot function. Payments cannot be made. There are scenarios in which a large financial institution would lose the ability to track the payments it makes. and things like that “, explained Jerome Powell. The Fed is also considering the possibility that part or even a large part of the financial system could shut down. “So we spend a lot of time, energy and money to guard against that”, he stressed, recalling that cyber attacks target large institutions “everyday”.



Vodafone releases 5G – digital


Ever heard of the name Oppo? Well, at least those who consider themselves early adopter see, so want to be the first to be there with every technique, you should remember it. The latest smartphone from the Chinese manufacturer, the Find X3 pro, and Samsung’s S21 are among the few smartphones that will soon be able to use real 5G.

Real 5G – don’t the three big providers all already have 5G locations on offer? You have, but the connection is still established using the tried and tested 4G technology, only the data transport is via 5G. This is called non-stand-alone among experts. Vodafone now wants to change that in Germany and has been offering real 5G at around a thousand locations since this Monday. For gourmets: It’s about locations that transmit in the 3.5 gigahertz range. For the time being, however, no normal customer can take advantage of this, because Oppo has not yet finished the corresponding software for the Find X3, and Samsung also has to first run a software update in order to teach the radio chip the new tricks. That could take until May. More manufacturers are to follow gradually. And when Vodafone shuts down the old 3G network at the end of June, that means a boost for 4G.

But if all of this is so difficult, why the change at all? This is because the providers do not want to and cannot wait until everything is settled and the customers break the door down for them – it takes quite a bit of lead time to lay the cables, convert the antennas and the software is ready. In the case of Vodafone, there is also the fact that competitor Telekom has rushed away with 5G and already two thirds of the population can offer the new network, even if only piggybacking over 4G. The Düsseldorfers can distinguish themselves with the real 5G.

Their argument: The special capabilities of this technology can only be used with an independent 5G. So far, the broader public has particularly emphasized the large bandwidth – in other words: 5G can transmit large amounts of data super-fast. This also works when 4G is used to establish the connection.

But, says the head of technology at Vodafone Germany, Gerhard Mack, the new functions of 5G also include low latency and the possibility of network slicing. In other words: The connection is established in a few milliseconds and the network can be divided into different segments. For example, in a fully occupied soccer stadium, part of the 5G network can be reserved for smooth live TV transmission, even if thousands of fans are sending selfies home at the same time.

“The added value only comes from the software.”

However, this not only requires fiber optic cables and antennas. In order to keep latencies low, data centers are also required that are as close as possible to where the action is. “We are moving away from supplying all of Germany with just a few central data centers,” says Mack, “and relying on distributed data centers.” One has already been set up in Frankfurt. This is why Vodafone customers in the Frankfurt region will be the first to benefit from the quick connection setup. “The goal here is ten milliseconds,” says Mack. That is a good ten times faster than the blink of an eye. Further data centers are to be built soon in Berlin, then in Munich. Vodafone is planning a total of ten of these data centers. These are standardized concrete cubes with an edge length of around 30 meters.

They are not only standardized on the outside, but also on the inside. This is also what distinguishes 5G from its predecessors: The system is no longer based on special hardware from network technology providers such as Ericsson or Nokia. “The added value only comes from the software,” says Mack. This also brings the so-called hyperscalers into play, i.e. large data center providers such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google. “The traditional providers have to change,” says Sylvain Fabre of the Gartner consultancy, “the cake could get bigger overall, but there is a lot more competition.” This is more difficult to achieve for traditional network technology providers than for the big cloud, for whom 5G customers are just another business area, and expansion is already part of the core competency of these providers.

The masts would have to be almost twice as high as with the old technology

The mobile phone providers also want to expand and want to bring the high-speed network to the public as quickly as possible, but there is one stumbling block: the locations for masts. Because the regulations for 5G have been tightened, the masts have to be almost twice as high as with conventional technology. “It is very difficult to find completely new locations where we can activate 5G antennas in the 3.5 gigahertz range,” complains Gerhard Mack, “the rules in Germany are very strict”. Elsewhere, for example in Italy, this is not a problem.

As I said, we also solve the problem with the transmission masts ...
(Photo: Dirk Meissner)

Politicians are helping out well, theoretically transmitting and receiving systems can be installed on all public buildings, but these are not always the right locations to achieve the necessary coverage. Private individuals with masts on their houses are often opposed to raising them, and sometimes this is not possible for static reasons. “The search for additional locations for 3.5 gigahertz antennas makes it difficult to drive the 5G expansion across the board,” says Mack.

What doesn’t make it any easier: the financing. All providers unanimously complain that they had to pay a lot of money to use the frequencies and that they now have high investment costs. Costs that they can hardly recoup through higher prices, for example for 5G. Because, admits Mack, “for private customers the arguments for a willingness to pay more need to develop further – for example on the topic of augmented reality.” The principle of hope currently prevails: “We have to keep building, then people’s interest will continue to grow.”


Cyber ​​attacks: the hacker with the toolbox – digital


Many companies have just put a lot of effort into strengthening their protection against typical cyber attacks: mass emails with Trojans that infected an entire system as soon as they were opened. The companies installed new firewalls, trained their employees and updated their operating systems. But now it turns out that the cyber criminals are undermining all of this with new methods in their attacks.

“We are seeing a clear change in cyber attacks,” says Stefan Schmutterer, cyber expert at the Wiesbaden insurer R + V. Instead of relying on Trojans in mass emails, hackers are increasingly targeting individual vulnerabilities in companies.

For this they use collections of programs, in the jargon these are called tool kits. The hackers can put together the toolboxes in the Darknet as they wish. A virus is looking for holes in the company’s firewall. Once it has been overcome, the next program is used and looks for further weak points until the hacker can take over or paralyze the system.

For the criminals, this procedure is more complex than a simple virus in a mass mail, says Schmutterer. “However, the cyberattacks tailored precisely to a victim are very effective.” Once the cybercriminals have hacked the system, they cripple it until a ransom is paid. Or they can access sensitive data such as credit card numbers and customer contacts. They also use it to blackmail the companies or sell the data directly. Small and medium-sized companies such as online companies, medical practices or car repair shops are particularly affected because they lack specialist knowledge, says Schmutterer. “Then there is a risk of major financial damage.”

Cyber ​​attacks on companies have increased overall in the pandemic

R + V statistics show that the proportion of these individual hacker attacks in cyber attacks has increased significantly since the beginning of 2020. “At the beginning of 2020, the proportion of individual attacks was still five percent; today they account for around 40 percent of the damage reported to us,” said Schmutterer.

Cyber ​​attacks on companies have increased overall. One reason for this is the pandemic. Because significantly more people work from home, there are more points of attack for cyber criminals. The damage cost of R + V for cyber attacks was almost as high in the first three months of 2021 as in the whole of 2020. Due to the increasing networking of all possible devices with the Internet, hacker attacks can not only cause costs for ransom or IT restoration, but also ensure business interruptions and property damage to the devices.

R + V deals with the topic because it wants to sell cyber policies. Many insurers are currently experiencing a boom here, but have become very cautious when it comes to insuring large companies. Smaller companies are more likely to find a suitable policy. Many insurers combine financial protection with services: Customers receive technical help in the event of a claim or training for employees to prevent claims. The offer often includes a check of the IT systems in advance.


New world. Why are some French sites which are usually free to pay since April 1?


Some websites now offer a paid version, to avoid targeted advertising.
Some websites now offer a paid version, to avoid targeted advertising. (SCREENSHOT)

If you visit websites such as Marmiton, AuFéminin, Pure People, or even Allociné, since April 1, you will be offered to pay to access the content. For example, it costs two euros for a month on Allociné, 49 cents for Marmiton or AuFéminin. Yet these sites were until now completely free, supported by advertising.

The explanation lies in “cookies”, these small markers that allow us to track our behavior on the web to send us targeted advertising. Under the general regulation on the protection of personal data (RGPD), French sites are now required to display a clearly visible button that allows Internet users to refuse these cookies (previously, this button already existed but it was generally hidden, in order to to deter visitors). It’s a safe bet that many more Internet users are likely to refuse these famous cookies, which could lead to a drop in advertising revenue.

Professionals explain that untargeted advertising earns about half as much as targeted advertising. This is the reason why some sites have implemented these paid subscriptions in an attempt to compensate for the shortfall.

The legality of the process is rather vague. The National Commission for Informatics and Freedoms (Cnil) considers that this choice does not respect the GDPR and it tried to have it banned, but it was retoked by the Council of State last June. The CNIL has promised to now examine the situations on a case-by-case basis. The fundamental question that arises is that of the economic model of websites. Internet users are widely used to free, but they often forget that content is financed by advertising. For private publishers, free does not exist and must be funded in one way or another.

Internet users who refuse to pay can still access the sites for free, provided they accept cookies. Furthermore, paying is not insurance against advertising, but only against targeted advertising. On the professional side, it is too early to know if the payment system put in place will really be able to compensate for the losses due to the rejection of advertising cookies.



“The day when 20% of the population falls into distancing, it is a very important burden”, justifies the Ministry of National Education


“The day when 20% of the population switches to distancing, it is a very important load for a computer system”, explains on Franceinfo, Friday April 9, Edouard Geffray, director general of school education at the Ministry of National Education. The week of online courses put in place due to the Covid-19 epidemic was peppered with many computer bugs.

franceinfo: Many teachers feel that the lessons of last year have not been learned. Is that the case ?

Edouard Geffray: Students and teachers represent 20% of the French population, so the day when all this proportion of the population falls into distancing, it is a very important load for a computer system. In addition, compared to last year, the use of tools such as ENT [espace  numérique de travail] or “My Class at Home” was nothing compared to last year.

The ENTs in five regions experienced difficulties, but thanks to the mobilization of the various actors, in particular the local authorities, the situation was able to quickly return to normal.

Edouard Geffray

to franceinfo

The CNED site for its part was confronted, even though there was a large number of connections, to a series of computer attacks that spread over the entire week, which resulted in congestion. However, this did not completely prohibit the holding of virtual classes. Just yesterday, a million five students were able to take online courses on the CNED.

Over the past year, has there been enough investment to protect the servers and systems that enable distance education?

Not all systems depend on the same services, and they have several links. It is each of these links that we must be able to secure and increase in strength. Investments have been made. At the start of the week, we found ourselves in a very specific situation which revealed the need to ramp up on certain subjects and to better protect ourselves technically against numerous and repeated cyberattacks. We are therefore going to continue in this direction with, in particular, the local communities with which we work closely. A complaint has been filed to determine the various origins of these attacks, an investigation is currently underway.

In two weeks, after the holidays, classes will resume online for middle and high school students. Will the system hold up this time?

We have fifteen days to work together, local authorities, the State, etc., and definitively remove all the difficulties that may have arisen this week.



the digital giants soon to be taxed at the level of their profits?


The giants of the Web have
The giants of the Web “gorged themselves” during the pandemic. States are organizing to establish a global minimum tax on companies. (Illustration) (RICCARDO MILANI / HANS LUCAS / AFP)

The digital giants are the big winners of the pandemic Everyone does their shopping on the internet, watches their films. It has become the biggest supermarket in the world, the biggest cinema too. A virtual world where the inhabitants of the planet meet, because they cannot leave their homes or go on vacation. A virtual world with very real profits. And yet the most emblematic companies of the Net are not taxed at the height of their profits.

The new Biden administration made proposals this week with the idea of ​​a global minimum corporate tax of 21%, as well as a tax on large globalized companies, and therefore on the winners of the system. Because today, as Pascal St Amans, director of the OECD’s Center for Tax Policy and Administration, points out,organization of economic cooperation and development, a hundred companies alone account for half of the profit made globally, and a majority of them are American.

How to tax them? This is the subject of ongoing discussions within the OECD. The US proposal suggests favoring a country-based approach, rather than a sectoral approach, which would undoubtedly lead to new tax avoidance, optimization and evasion techniques on the part of GAFAs. This proposal from the United States is interesting, according to Pascal St Amans. Now we need to study it, says French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, who calls for a global tax revolution.

For the calendar, you have to go quickly, very quickly. The firing window is both unexpected and extremely short. At the OECD, we hope to strike a deal this summer, as the stars are aligned, with a new US presidency that has decided that the digital giants will finally pay their shares. In Europe, there is an urgent need to put money into state coffers to finance expenses related to the pandemic. France, a pioneer on this issue, has its own electoral deadlines next year.

And if a global agreement is quickly reached under the aegis of the OECD, this will allow France to abandon its tax on digital services which has several drawbacks. From a technical point of view, it excludes several digital giants, and financially its revenues are meager, less than 400 million euros in 2019, when at the same time the corporate tax brought in 31 billion euros in total.



New world. French company wins global facial recognition competition


Facial recognition, a technology that the French company & nbsp; Idemia is developing to a high level. It has just won the international Face Recognition Vendor Test competition. (Drawing)
Facial recognition, a technology that the French company Idemia is developing to a high level. It has just won the international Face Recognition Vendor Test competition. (Illustration) (GETTY IMAGES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RF)

Specializing in biometrics and in particular facial recognition, the French company Idemia has just won the international Face Recognition Vendor Test competition, organized by the United States. It was ahead of 270 European, Chinese and American competitors such as Microsoft.

franceinfo: How is your technology the most efficient?

Vincent Bouatou, Director of Strategic Innovation at Idemia : The contest was to show a photo of a face to our algorithm so that it could find it in the middle of a base of over a million others. Our technology, which draws on decades of experience, has proven to be the best, with a ridiculously low error rate. We are very proud of this result obtained by our research and development teams.

What can this facial recognition technology be used for?

There are many use cases. For example, facial recognition can be used to make strong identification when opening a bank account, by comparing the photo of the person’s face with the photo of their ID.

Border control can also be automated, as is the case in France in particular at certain airports. This allows you to go through an automatic airlock, which will compare the passport photo and the person’s face, without the need for manual checks. In Paris and Lyon today, this makes it possible to speed up all the control stages in order to board the plane very quickly. We have equipped Singapore International Airport so that a person can board within 10 minutes of arriving at the airport.

Facial recognition is scary. How to reassure?

There is a real need for transparency on the uses of this technology. Why is it deployed? For what purposes? How? You have to be able to guarantee that biometric data, that is, your face information, is not stored in a database that can be used. In our case, we just make a comparison, then we forget everything. There is no dissemination.

The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) really pushes for this, since we have to do a privacy impact assessment for each solution deployed. In addition, there is also today, for most biometric identification systems, a possibility for the user to simply refuse facial recognition and request that the process be done manually.



franceinfo conso. What if we quit WhatsApp? The instant messaging business


The survey of 60 million consumers explains how instant messaging works.
The survey of 60 million consumers explains how instant messaging works. “When it’s free, you are the product!” (Illustration) (GIUSEPPE MANFRA / MOMENT RF / GETTY IMAGES)

Telegram, TwinMe, Signal, and especially the most famous, WhatsApp: franceinfo consumer today decrypts the survey on instant messaging published by the magazine 60 million consumers, with its editor-in-chief, Benjamin Douriez

franceinfo: WhatsApp has been in the crosshairs of users since the start of the year, why?

Benjamin Douriez: If you use the app, since the beginning of the year you’ve probably seen messages alerting you of an update to the Terms of Service. The concern is that this update seems to open the door to more extensive data transfers within the Facebook group, the parent company of Whatsapp. The announcement in early January sparked an uproar: the entry into force of the new conditions, which were scheduled for February, have been postponed. It will be May 15, but it is still on the schedule.

Is this all the more incredible than in 2014, when Facebook bought whatsApp, the group was putting forward privacy?

At WhatsApp, we used to say at the time: “Respect for privacy is in our DNA”. But soon enough, we realized that being linked to Facebook is not trivial for messaging users. In 2016, WhatsApp invited them to accept the sharing of certain data. At the time, it was optional. There, with this year’s update, it becomes mandatory.

But when we say “data sharing”, what kind of information does it mean?

First, you need to clarify that this does not concern the content of conversations, or the photos you send to your friends. All of this remains completely private – and fortunately! On the other hand, WhatsApp will be able to send the phone number and connection data (model of smartphone used, time of connection, etc.) to Facebook.

And does that mean that you can find your personal data on Facebook without being registered?

Not really ! We will not find this publicly accessible on Facebook. But this data, in a way your user profile, certain connection habits, can be used more easily within the Facebook group. The company explains that this is to facilitate communication between WhatsApp users and businesses – so that WhatsApp can also be a platform for communication between businesses and their customers. What does that mean concretely? Today it is not very clear. As is often the case with Facebook, when it comes to the use of personal data. It is also this vagueness over the purpose of the operation that is worrying.

What are WhatsApp’s competitors today and how do they work?

There are many of them, which operate quite similar to WhatsApp: they are messaging systems allowing you to have group conversations, possibly to make calls. Some have seen their user numbers take off with the WhatsApp controversy. One can quote Signal, it is the best known competitor which was also founded by a former WhatsApp. Or Telegram, born in Russia – we know that some politicians use it. Others less well known like Olvid, TwinMee, Threema. We detail the main ones in our survey.

And in terms of data protection, which messaging system do you think is the most secure?

First, all of them, including WhatsApp, offer message encryption – more precisely end-to-end encryption – which ensures that conversations cannot be intercepted. Is there a data protection champion? Competitors can also have flaws, but it can be noted that some, Signal / Telegram / Threema, are “open source” software, that is, the code that runs the app is public – that’s is a guarantee of transparency and security.

More generally, leaving WhatsApp for a competing messaging system is above all moving away from the fold of Facebook and its sulphurous reputation in terms of personal data.

But are there ways to protect yourself?

When it comes to confidentiality, you should not rely blindly on the messaging system you use. There are things that can be regulated, that can be parameterized, and that are important to know. So in your account settings, you can, for example, disable the “seen at”, which allows others to know if you have read their messages. You can also with most messengers choose to have these messages ephemeral, that is to say that they self-destruct after some time.

Changing messaging is one thing, but how do you stay in touch with your friends? Because there is no connection between the different applications?

It’s true that change takes effort. Because your friends and relatives need to change too, to switch to the same messaging system as you. Or, you have to juggle several messaging services which, in fact, do not communicate with each other. Either the new mailbox accesses your contact list to connect with your friends if they have an account. It’s simple, but it means that messaging accesses your contacts. Otherwise, other messaging services work with codes that can be sent by email, for example, to invite your friends.

From an economic point of view, how do all these couriers work?

That’s the whole question for these free couriers. Because the adage says: “When it’s free, you are the product”. It was brought up for WhatsApp, where it is understood that messaging wants to use users and their data to sell services to businesses. Others make different choices. Telegram in particular announced the arrival of advertising, paid options. Signal is different, it’s a non-profit organization, which lives on donations.