The game of diplomatic bluff played out in the row between the Unites States and Russia over the asylum offered to former NSA computer analyst-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden disguises an essential issue that concerns all of us, writes Mediapart editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel. That issue, he argues here, is how a ‘state of exception’, symbolized by the US Patriot Act and which cites supposed security concerns above the just rule of law, is surreptitiously extending its already vast power amid hitherto widespread indifference. A battle is on to force its retreat, and it is being fought here, on the internet.
The so-called Twitter Affair in which anti-Semitic and other racist comments were Tweeted has provoked a major outcry in France over the use and abuse of the internet. The government has promised to take action and a senator is currently overseeing plans for new legislation to 'supervise' the web in France. But many internet rights campaigners fear that freedom of speech could become the first casualty of this war on racist, sexist and homophobic language on the internet. Jérôme Hourdeaux reports.
There was all the atmosphere of a joint press conference between heads of state when French President François Hollande and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt this month announced an agreement had been reached between the US search engine giant and the French press over Google’s use of article contents. Google will make a one-off payment of 60 million euros to fund development of the publishers' presence on the internet, while it will also offer to increase their online revenues using Google’s advertising platforms. However, as Dan Israel and Jérôme Hourdeaux report, what was presented as a "historic" compromise is in reality a long-term victory for Google over an ailing, cash-strapped press, while the details of the deal are, curiously, to remain secret.
He is one of the most powerful and influential men in France today. Not only is Xavier Niel the founder and main shareholder of the country's second biggest internet service provider, Free, the billionaire businessman is also part-owner of the nation's best-known newspaper Le Monde. Such is his power – and personality – that he is not afraid to take on Google, while he is friends with some of the most prominent families who make up France's wealthy business elite. Yet in the late 1980s Niel was a 'brilliant but penniless' youth with no formal qualifications working as a technician in the twilight world of sex chatlines and dating in central Paris. In an investigation Mediapart charts Niel's career from his lucrative ownership of sex shops in Paris and Strasbourg to the day he seized total control of the company that would ultimately make him France’s 12th wealthiest man. Laurent Mauduit and Dan Israel report.