France’s Digital Minister Mounir Mahjoubi on upcoming digital insurance policies
France’s Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi got here to CES in Las Vegas to assist lots of of French startups. Just a few weeks in the past, I had the chance to sit down down and interview him about pretend information, the French digital council, Axelle Lemaire’s regulation and the way he plans to rework the state right into a tech platform.
Mahjoubi joined Emmanuel Macron’s workforce because the individual in control of all issues digital whereas Macron was campaigning to grow to be France’s President. He joined the French authorities instantly after the 2017 election and has been in control of Digital Affairs. Along with being the go-to policymaker for the tech trade on the whole, he’s additionally engaged on digital initiatives inside the authorities and the French state.
There’s additionally a separate video interview about French startups on the whole. As we speak’s interview was translated from French and barely edited for brevity and readability.
TechCrunch: Your place as Secretary of State is now beneath the Prime Minister. What does it change every day in comparison with former Digital Secretaries of State [who were working with Economy Ministers]?
Mounir Mahjoubi: Earlier than, I might have been Secretary of State in control of the Digital Economic system, now I’m Secretary of State in control of Digital Affairs. There’s a clear hyperlink between financial transformation, state transformation, inclusion and safety matters. All these issues are related.
After we speak about constructing a ‘startup nation’, it’s a nation that behaves like a startup and that fosters startups at dwelling. What I’m making an attempt to do is to construct champions for the financial system and the state. It implies that I wish to create the most effective on-line companies attainable for the Authorities. I’m accountable of a giant state-owned startup that spends €10 billion [$12.4 billion] on digital initiatives in order that we are able to have extra versatile and accessible companies that leverage synthetic intelligence.
TC: The first mission is the digital transformation of the state?
MM: That’s the primary half, and it goes hand in hand with the transformation of the financial system. And what’s fascinating is that these two issues are complementary. After we develop our startups, we have to create an ecosystem that fosters champions. We’re going to create unicorns — not simply three unicorns, however 20 or 100. However we additionally want an ecosystem of firms that get their alternatives.
First, we develop an ecosystem the place everybody has a chance — we foster range and we floor entrepreneurs from all over the place as a result of good concepts come from all over the place. Second, we have to establish tomorrow’s success tales and assist them speed up.
We wish to do the identical for the state. On the identical time, we’ll maintain French individuals who don’t know how you can use digital companies — it’s ineffective to do all this if we go away behind 20 % of French residents who don’t know how you can use the web.
And at last, we make it possible for the system is safe. If we are able to’t attain a excessive degree of cybersecurity, nobody will belief startups, nobody will belief digital public companies. And all of those are important circumstances for the transformation of France.
TC: What are the aims for the digital transformation of France for the subsequent 4 years?
MM: Concerning the financial system, we may have startups which are international leaders, particularly in particular industries, equivalent to synthetic intelligence, well being, digital safety, transport and the surroundings. I’ll do my greatest to establish and assist them develop.
Then, we have to assist firms from the so-called ‘traditional’ financial system. We have to assist them of their [digital] transformation. As we speak, 50 % of all staff work for small and medium enterprises. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to satisfy with 100 of these SMEs that come right here to CES and focus on how we can assist them of their transformation of their worldwide supply.
As for the state, the target that we now have given ourselves is 100 % of dematerialized paperwork by 2022. Which means that we now have loads of work to create the state as a platform, create micro companies that work with that form of platform, rework administration work that isn’t digital but, create a unified course of with France’s digital companies and facilitate entry to the administrations. These are the important aims. And the circumstances for achievement are a excessive degree of safety and accessibility.
Finally, we’ll even have a broader subject relating to employment transformation. How can we accompany the transformation at a big and small scale in the long term — some jobs will seem, others will disappear. That’s the reason we now have wager on coaching and competencies. We’ve got invested €15 billion within the coaching of French individuals.
TC: There’s a recurring query because the starting of [Macron’s] five-year time period. How far are we with the implementing decrees of Axelle Lemaire’s regulation?
MM: Which of them, we handed a lot of them already…
TC: Sure, however there are nonetheless some remaining ones…
MM: Some are remaining and they’re probably the most difficult ones…
TC: Will they be scrapped?
MM: Nothing can be scrapped. If we scrap them, individuals will see it. Now, we now have a Nationwide Meeting that may be very competent with regards to digital matters — it hasn’t all the time been the case.
There are ten remaining implementing decrees that contain complicated choices. There are additionally some decrees that require judicial consideration as a result of they rely upon European regulation and France’s structure. For these ones, it’s attainable that we find yourself failing.
TC: When will the final implementing decree be printed?
MM: Those which are difficult are these the place there’s a drawback of European compatibility or constitutional compatibility. For these ones, we’d must move a brand new regulation or go although European organizations to succeed in a global answer.
TC: Can we discuss in regards to the French digital council [Conseil National du Numérique]? Marie Ekeland’s resignation draw loads of consideration to it. What occurred precisely and who gave the order to vary the workforce?
MM: There isn’t any order. There was a miscomprehension or a misalignment between the undertaking carried out by Marie Ekeland and France’s wants with a digital council. The council’s function is to accompany the digital transformation of France, to accompany the Authorities.
From the very first day after its formation, all of the talks we had weren’t appropriate with this mission.
TC: Did they signify an excessive amount of opposition?
MM: In a short time, the council had its personal undertaking and so they weren’t right here to accompany the Authorities within the digital transformation.
Mea culpa, we acknowledged that we weren’t aligned with the aim of the president [Marie Ekeland]. She selected to resign. The members mentioned that they’d resign as effectively as a result of the undertaking would cease. However a few of them can be named once more within the subsequent digital council, and one in every of them grew to become my chief of workers [Aymeril Hoang].
That’s why that resignations weren’t in opposition to me or the federal government. The resignations have been the results of the tip of Marie Ekeland’s undertaking. And now we have to prepare for an additional undertaking.
TC: When can we anticipate a brand new French digital council?
MM: February. In reality, France wants a digital council as shortly as attainable. Internet neutrality is jeopardized, the subject of synthetic intelligence is on the way in which — there are many matters that require that the council begins working.
TC: Let’s change gear and speak about startups once more. There are at present two sturdy indicators for the French tech ecosystem — the Visa French Tech and Station F. These are nice symbols, however how can we go additional and speak about precise French startups?
MM: All of it comes all the way down to what ‘French Tech’ means. From my perspective, I might be extra optimistic than you. After we hear about French Tech, France and startups, we additionally hear ‘very good engineers’ and ‘nice startups’. However we don’t hear about ‘powerful startups’ and ‘hyper growth’.
That’s what I wish to concentrate on within the coming years. Whenever you hear the phrases French Tech, it is best to take into consideration these deep tech firms which are going to save lots of lives throughout the globe.
TC: Let’s speak about Bpifrance. Emmanuel Macron promised one other €10 billion fund final yr. What’s the standing of this fund and the way will it form up?
MM: This €10 billion fund for disruptive innovation will let Bpifrance make investments lots of of thousands and thousands of euros in progressive initiatives yearly
TC: €200 million [per year]?
MM: It’ll rely upon the rate of interest, so it may be €200 million or extra. We have to end placing every thing collectively to make it accessible to the general public.
That is necessary as a result of we wish to rethink how we use public cash to spend money on firms that personal funds gained’t spend money on. It is vitally necessary to separate public cash from personal funds. That cash ought to by no means be invested in firms that additionally appeal to personal cash. It must be centered on hyper threat and hyper innovation. That’s the way you create sustainable funding.
TC: One final query. Emmanuel Macron introduced a undertaking in opposition to pretend information to the media. The form of that undertaking continues to be unclear. What’s your concrete tackle that undertaking?
TC: For that difficulty, there is no such thing as a must rush. Extra typically, we now have a difficulty that isn’t solely French — it’s a international subject that impacts the U.S., Europe, France, Germany… It’s all about eradicating content material from on-line platforms and sharing the accountability.
There’s a particular difficulty with pretend information throughout elections, however there is a matter round terrorist content material, a difficulty round on-line harassment, cyber criminality… And we have to think twice as a result of all these matters are reaching a brand new dimension.
It feels bizarre to see Fb or Twitter performing shortly to take away a nipple inside a minute whereas it takes them per week to take away a homophobic message as a result of they suppose it’s a matter of freedom of speech
What’s a authorized difficulty? What’s a freedom of speech difficulty? What’s the accountability of the platform or the editors? What’s audiovisual content material? This subject of on-line content material elimination is probably topic to a number of units of regulation. One of many focus of the subsequent months is to make clear regulation round that difficulty.
The regulation “confidence for the digital economy” of 2014 already offers with the tasks of the internet hosting firm and the enhancing firm. We have already got a robust software, as a result of another nations don’t have that.
As we speak, we found the boundaries, together with with regards to pretend information, harassment and insults. Some associations are very demanding, associations in opposition to homophobia, Islamophobia, antisemitism… There are victims that don’t perceive why harassing content material stays on-line after a number of studies.
We’ve got areas of success, on terrorism for instance — President Macron reminded this. We ask them to go even additional and delete content material inside an hour of being reported. And this appears to search out consensus and nobody is in opposition to this.
But when we go down only one degree and speak about on-line harassment, together with unlawful content material. There are individuals who say that it’s not the function of the platform to determine how you can say if it’s infringing the regulation or not.
Relating to baby pornography, there was a worldwide consensus for 15 years. Relating to kids, the content material should be deleted and we don’t want a decide. The platform is accountable and should delete instantly.
For the remaining, we have to discover out if we have to take away it or not. You’ve gotten respectable individuals who say that it’s not the function of the platform to determine what should be saved on-line or not. And in the event that they do it they’ll do it in response to their very own the values — typically it’s not our values.
And it feels bizarre to see Fb or Twitter performing shortly to take away a nipple inside a minute whereas it takes them per week to take away a homophobic message as a result of they suppose it’s a matter of freedom of speech. In France, it’s very bizarre — we’d have banned the homophobic message and left that form of nudity alone.
We don’t must rush into it. The President has set some targets and now we have to attain them.