Introduction to Cyber Law and Public Communication webinar, Jakarta-Le Havre

Good morning all and welcome to our second webinar in the series of Webconferences: Road to International Conference on Corporate and Marketing Communication (ICCOMAC), organized by the School of Communication at Catholic University of Indonesia Atma Jaya in Jakarta and Le Havre Normandie University in France.

I am Hadi Saba Ayon, PhD. in Information and Communication Sciences at the research laboratory UMR 6266 CNRS IDEES Le Havre and I will moderate the debate in this webconference with my colleague Dr. Nia Sarinastiti from the School of Communication in Atma Jaya.

Why do we talk about digital law and public communication today? The Covid-19 pandemic, which has accelerated digital transformation in almost all areas of life, shows us every day the fragility of the digital ecosystem in which we live.

Governments, organizations and individuals find themselves at the mercy of the digital giants that dominate and control multiple digital services: coding, software development, access provision, data hosting, processing, and more.

These companies, whether American (GAFAM) [Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple et Microsoft] ou chinoises (BATX) [Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent et Xiaomi], monopolize a large part of the functions that we, digital users, need to inhabit and live in digital, described by Milad Doueihi (2011), historian of religions, philosopher and holder of the Humanum Chair, which is dedicated to digital humanism, at University of Paris Sorbonne (Paris-IV), as “virtual urbanism”, marked by hybridization, and characterized by increase and immersion.

Personalized information, which hides or on which a recommendation economy is based, is mediated by search engines, emails, communication services, social networks, shopping applications, health platforms, trade services, etc. The vast majority of its services are within the reach of digital giants.

And with digital traceability, a surveillance system is developing, threatens and harms privacy and questions the rights of individuals, organizations and even governments. In addition, it endangers our “digital life” and questions our “living together” in the information society.

Marcello Vitali-Rosati of the University of Montreal recalls that the influence of GAFAM does not depend “on digital” (as a cultural phenomenon), but on certain specific uses: those of proprietary software and hardware. He writes in his text “Being free in the digital age” (2019):

“Concretely, the scourge of which we are victims is represented by the fact that in all areas, from private life to public life through professional activity, we are encouraged to use proprietary solutions: MacOs, iOS, Windows, Word, Adobe, Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype, Gmail, Outlook (…). Our life is influenced and structured by these tools without our being able to precisely understand the principles. The affordances of platforms push us to certain practices, notifications punctuate our rhythms of life, data and document formats structure the organization of our thinking; we don’t know what happens to our data and who can access it”.

According to him, “digital” does not exist as such, but there are many different practices, uses, tools and environments, based on particular principles, and promoting varied values and consequently, leading to diverse effects. This leads us to be critical of digital.

Digital companies want to sell their products, it is their rights. But what about the role of public and private institutions?

What regulations should be put in place to organize the digital space and preserve the rights of its inhabitants?

Can we guarantee a right to digital oblivion where the user can be assured that the data that he himself has decided to remove from his publication space is not kept by the platform and it will not be used?

Can we speak about “digital manners to live together” or a transliteracy to be developed to circumvent the conditions dictated by a small group of digital companies?

Louise Merzeau (2017) from Paris 10 University recalls that a culture is never limited to a know-how, it is rooted in memory, ethics and politics.

There are many issues that occupy an important place in everyone’s life today, especially in a pandemic period when digital technology complements the role of institutions in the economic, educational, health and other fields.

To discuss them, we are pleased to welcome Dr. Bénédicte Bévière-Boyer from the Department of Law at the University of Paris 8 Vincennes – Saint-Denis in France and Dr. Yuliana Wahyuningtyas from the Department of Law at Atma Jaya, who will debate about digital law and public communication.

Thank you all for your participation, and have a nice conference.

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