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(en) France, Union Communiste Libertaire AL #302 - Digital, Fiscal panoptics: Big Brother Bercy (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Thu, 27 Feb 2020 09:42:53 +0200

The finance bill for 2020 authorizes the Ministry of the Economy to massively suck up data from Internet users to supposedly fight tax fraud. Continuation and end of the article "Fliscing everywhere, justice nowhere" of Libertarian Alternative of December 2019. ---- Without too much noise, discreetly nestled in article 154 of the voluminous finance law for 2020, the majority En Marche voted the possibility offered to the tax authorities and customs to scrutinize the least of our digital traces in search of suspicious data. This new technopolice system was validated on December 27, 2019 by the Constitutional Council. ---- Under the cover of a three-year "experiment", of which no one is fooled when it becomes a norm, the presidential majority validated the massive and automated collection of "publicly accessible content" on most online platforms - from Facebook in Leboncoin -, supposedly to fight tax fraud. Obviously, this is not about fighting the billions of euros tax evaded, but rather a new instrument of social control.

The guiding idea is relatively simple and constitutes a real reversal of the principle of presumption of innocence. It is no longer a question, in the context of an individual suspicion, of seeking additional evidence within the framework of a supervised investigation procedure, but of going trawl - an algorithm which we will not know necessarily the sources - what internet users publish online, about themselves or about others, in search of any sign capable of triggering a presumption of guilt, whether it is a question of confirming it or not.

The disregard for class at work appears in a blatant manner: anyone can be suspected as soon as they take a vacation that is a little too sunny or wear a little too chic clothes considered - by computerized criteria - as incompatible with their helpers social security or its tax bracket.

"Sensitive" data also concerned
Experimentation or not, this text constitutes a disproportionate breach of the law in force on personal data. The National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) itself strongly criticized the system[1], noting the massive nature of the collection, the extent of the platforms concerned, the risks of self-censorship and recalling that publishing personal information online, even publicly, does not give the state a blank check to do with it as it sees fit, as it sees fit.

Note in particular that this mass collection does not bother to discern the quality of the data. "Sensitive data", that is to say data relating to political and religious opinions, sexual orientation or even data relating to health status, will be sucked in without special precautions . Their destruction "at the latest within five days" , therefore stored during this period, should not reassure us.

If it were still needed, this new security drift demonstrates how the police state can take advantage of the capitalism of surveillance of large platforms by making them central actors of social control. Faced with this, it is fundamental to develop a true digital, collective self-defense, and to adapt our online practices to this reality. Otherwise we will ourselves be agents of our own filing.

Etienne (UCL Saint-Denis)

[1] "Mass collection: the CNIL criticizes the megafile of Bercy" , September 30, 2019, NextInpact.com

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