As Lawrence Lessig explained on January, 1st 2000, Code is Law!
Computer systems, and more specifically software and data networks, have been driving the way the world has evolved recently. Software is now everywhere: in cars, trains and planes, in your house, in businesses and in industry.
Smartphones are taking over our lives
Since 2007, software has also taken control in our personal lives: smartphones have become our companions of life. They empower us with new abilities. They help us find information quickly, they help us with directions, they help us to communicate quickly and at a low cost with other people anywhere in the world.
The digital age we’re presently living in is a “far west quest”. The few who understand how things work are releasing products which often gain quick and massive adoption: people who were born before 1998 can remember a world where Facebook and Google didn’t exist.
The drawbacks of this revolution are that:
- most of the needed digital regulation is yet to be put in place
- new giant organizations can take a lot of power and wealth so quickly that observers notice too late
Therefore new products and services can grow without limits and often are tempted to adopt some questionable or bad practices that go against the users’ interest.
Net giants are using our data, against our interest
Among these bad behaviors, the massive exploitation of personal and corporate data by giant corporations such as Google and Facebook is highly questionable.
- selling ultra-targeted advertising that relies on user profiling is not an ethical business model and implies many risks for people if that data is used for purposes other than the initially intended one.
- the recent case of “Cambridge Analytica” proves that such abuses are not only possible, but have become a reality: by using massive amounts of user data, which came from Facebook, they could influence the results of several elections around the world, including the latest US presidential elections, and the UK brexit referendum. This manipulation of users is actually going against any fundamental principle of a modern democracy.
- Edward Snowden revealed in 2013 that a well established surveillance agency had installed Internet interception systems all over the world to record and analyze all communication by people and corporations. A part of this program was organized with the help of several of the Internet giants. This is leading us towards a world of massive individualized surveillance. Again, this goes against fundamental principles of freedom and democracy.
All in all, new technologies, when used badly, are severely threatening our modern democracies.
Heading to a totalitarian world
Today our smartphones and home-assistants keep on getting more and more of our personal and professional data. In return they provide useful services, which makes them very appealing. They give us information, simple suggestions, and they promote commercial products. They have also started to take care of our health, giving personalized advice about what should or shouldn’t be done to preserve it.
Soon, if we let things keep going the way they are, the big net corporations will be telling us who we should meet, what we should do, telling us if we are efficient enough, or if we should work harder. Every part of our lives is going to be driven by these AI-driven devices, for the benefit of a few private interests.
Tomorrow, they will just install each of us into a global totalitarian organization.
/e/ is resistance
/e/ is committed to providing desirable mobile phones and web-services that respect the user’s data privacy. The /e/ OS will not send a user’s data to /e/, such as his location, his contacts, his agenda, in an exploitable manner. /e/ users will be able to use /e/ cloud services with the guarantee that his data will be kept private and stored as securely as possible.
This can sound like tech product features, but in the end, this is going against what’s happening at the moment with user data exploitation. This is going against the project of a totalitarian world driven by private interests. This is going against the exploitation of humanity.
/e/ is a non-profit organization, in the public interest. /e/ is a societal project, committed to freedom.
— Gaël Duval, /e/ founder