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Internet : Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde ?

Internet : Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde ?

Love-hate, hate-love, love-hate, hate-love… The relationship between the general public and the internet has never been quite so complicated or tense.

A recent survey by the United States State Department revealed that one in two web users are so worried about the threats to their private lives and security, that they now use the internet less than before and have stopped using the internet for things as basic as posting on social media, expressing an opinion in forums or even buying online. Just imagine the consequences for banks, online retailers and the entire internet economy. This may be an American survey, but we can wager that the results would not be very different in France. The Orange-Terra Femina observatory (see review N° 9 on Data) already revealed the concerns in France about the use of data.

But, paradoxically, these same people are not afraid of revealing everything about their private lives and divulging their secrets on the network, forgetting that Doctor Jekyll can quickly turn into Mr Hyde. But should we really leave the web? The role of the internet has never been so positive: free access to education, the growth of participatory democracy, the birth of citizens’ networks, the development of the collaborative economy, etc. So maybe we should just exercise our critical faculties, demand more power to take action and simply play our role as digital citizens.

The Expert's eye Yan Claeyssen

Technology is a “pharmakon”, a Greek term that means both the poison and the remedy. This is the paradox of every technology: it brings benefits, but also has a dark side that can give rise to concerns (the negative effects, loss of control, accidents, etc.). The dark side of big data technologies lies in our fear of being “unmasked” or “revealed”, and that our behaviour will become “legible”, “interpretable” and “accessible” to all. In other words, the loss of intimacy and/or privacy. The blockchain could be the ultimate technological solution to overcome these fears and to irrevocably protect our privacy and anonymity.

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