Home LATEST NEWS HIGH TECH Resisting the GAFAM invasion, with Alain Saunier

Resisting the GAFAM invasion, with Alain Saunier

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The term barbaric may seem strong to talk about legally constituted companies that have established themselves on our territory with our agreement, but for Alain Saulnier, retired journalist and professor, the invasion of GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) and other platforms, like Netflix, actually has something wild about it.

These powers settled here and completely denied the authority of the state. They didn’t want to recognize our laws, our regulations, our ability to tax companies for their activities here.he says at the end of the line.

After extensive research and interviews with people from cultural and political circles, he tries with The digital barbarians to draw a portrait of the situation and to offer some possible solutions, recalling that it is midnight minus one and that there is an urgent need to legislate in the matter.

The cover of Alain Saulnier's latest book, Les Barbares Numériques, in mauve, green and yellow. Enlarge imageHave (New window)Have

The cover page of Alain Saulnier’s latest book

Photo: Ecosociety

A historical nonchalance

If the invasion was barbaric, it must be said that Canada’s defense strategy was almost non-existent. From the digital infancy, government and public institutions, starting with the Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), have instead welcomed new media with open arms.

According to Alain Saunier, it was the CRTC that first let bring the wolf into the fold in 1999, by adopting a policy of laissez-faire in its public notice which read: By not regulating new media services, we hope to encourage their development.

Needless to say, two decades later, this policy has worked wonders, as new media has grown without limits. Of course, in 1999, we were far from suspecting the speed with which they would develop; the CRTC did not have a crystal ball. However, according to Alain Saulnier, it didn’t have to make it a decision that would tie their hands for years to come.

He could have simply given it a try to see how it works, giving himself the right to intervene again in a year or two. They [plutôt] put both feet in the cement, and the fresh cement set completely. We haven’t been able to move since then.

Governments subjugated by the power of GAFAM

Obviously, the CRTC is not solely responsible for the situation we are facing today. The Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg of this world have a bewildering effect on many people, politicians being no exception.

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success stories of the American west coast that we wanted to use as models. Our politicians were captivated by this phenomenon and they all wanted to be part of this quest for a new modernity, for extraordinary creativity”,”text”:”These are all success stories from the American West Coast that we wanted to use as models. Our politicians were captivated by this phenomenon and they all wanted to be part of this quest for a new modernity, for extraordinary creativity”}}”>These are all success stories of the American west coast that we wanted to use as models. Our politicians were captivated by this phenomenon and they all wanted to be part of this quest for a new modernity, for extraordinary creativity.he says.

He recalls in particular the agreement between Netflix and the federal government, unveiled with great fanfare by Mélanie Joly in 2017 and according to which the American giant remained exempt from taxes in exchange for an investment of 500 million dollars over five years in the production of content. Canadian, without any obligation to produce French-language content.

This agreement was widely criticized, in particular because it gave the impression that the government was submitting to the law of Netflix by allowing it to continue to operate outside the regulations imposed on Canadian companies; a clear example of tax inequity. It was incredibly ridiculoussummarizes Mr. Saulnier.

Francophone culture is not a culture of losers

By granting too much deference to the digital giants, Canadian culture, and even more so French-speaking culture, risks being lost in the ocean of American productions.

We are very much marginalizing our cultural production, in the cinematographic field, in the musical field, etc. We have to find a way to further promote and financially support production herehe explains.

losers. We are more than that. We need to have a winning mentality, too. Look at Quebec’s presence at the next Oscars. I’m sorry, but we weren’t born for a little filmography.”,”text”:”Our culture should not be seen as a culture of losers. We are more than that. We need to have a winning mentality, too. Look at Quebec’s presence at the next Oscars. I’m sorry, but we weren’t born for a small filmography.”}}”>Our culture should not be seen as a culture of losers. We are more than that. We need to have a winning mentality, too. Look at Quebec’s presence at the next Oscars. I’m sorry, but we weren’t born for a small filmography.

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However, he believes that the Legault government does not have the necessary tools to highlight Quebec talent, in particular with the too small budgets of the Ministry of Culture and Communications. He also deplores that the Prime Minister practices a purely economic nationalism, rather than also a cultural one.

Possible solutions

Alain Saulnier, eternal optimist, is nevertheless delighted with the recent tabling of Bill C-11 at the federal level, taking two of the reform of the Broadcasting Act. Its predecessor, Bill C-10, died on the order paper when Parliament was dissolved before last September’s election.

Bill C-11 aims to subject digital giants to the Broadcasting Act, by forcing them to contribute financially to the creation and discovery of Canadian cultural content. Alain Saulnier, however, doubts the ability of the minority government of Justin Trudeau to make the bill swallow the Conservative Party, which had been very critical of the precedent.

Mr. Saulnier thinks that Canada should take inspiration from Europe and Australia, which have a head start in terms of GAFAM supervision. France, in particular, reacted quickly to protect the copyrights of its creators.

Joining forces with Europe would also allow Canada to distance itself from the United States, which considers Canadian territory as part of its domestic market.

This means that we are perhaps even more fearful, or less daring, when it comes to supervision. Maybe we are afraid that there will be counter-offensives with the boycott of our goods or taxes on our goods sent to the United Statesbelieves Alain Saulnier.

Other possible solutions are possible: mandatory tax rate, minimum percentage of French content, etc. What matters, according to Alain Saulnier, is to act quickly, because Canada is already lagging behind in this area. We can no longer remain passivehe writes at the end of his book.

Our awareness and our mobilization will have to maintain all the necessary pressure on governments so that they act for the common good, ours.

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