Google is already walking on thin ice with European countries because of European Union regulations, leaving it no choice but to impose a fee on utilizing Google Apps.
Now, France has taken the first steps to eradicate Google and its “personalized services” from its country. As Wired reports, the French National Assembly and French Army Ministry declared last month that they would stop using Google as their default search engine.
Instead, French bodies will use Qwant, a French search engine that assures users of not using their personal information for tracking and targeted advertising.
French President Emmanuel Macron has previously stated that government bodies should have stronger rules to protect people’s privacy, safety, and access to the internet.
“If we don’t regulate [companies’] relations to data, the rights our citizens have on their own data, their access and sharing – what is the point of democratically elected government?” said Macron at the recent Internet Governance Forum.
The country seems to be more focused on “Digital Sovereignty,” which for them means the government’s control over the Internet rather than global companies.
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The decision to dethrone Google is not an impulsive one. It is the direct result of privacy disasters happening around the world. A recent one is the Facebook Cambridge Analytica Scandal where data abuse of millions of people occurred through Facebook
A researcher at the French Institute for International Relations told Wired, “With Cambridge Analytica, politicians realized that digital sovereignty was a significant political issue.”
Recently, France’s digital affairs body criticized the United States Cloud Act, which would allow the U.S. to access native companies’ data servers located in different countries. But France’s wake-up call happened way back in 2013 when Edward Snowden revealed that NSA was spying on foreign leaders.
As we saw with India and Bangladesh, France’s Digital Sovernity can also lead to Government’s Digital Authoritarianism, where regulatory bodies interfere with the freedom of the Internet.