France censors Microsoft and Google for privacy concerns

The Ministry of National Education has just taken a historic and meaningful decision. Believing that Microsoft and Google do not respect local requirements for the management of personal data, the institution is now asking schools, colleges and high schools to no longer deploy software from these companies within their establishments. From high school, however, the youngest have so far been used by their teachers to create their own Gmail account to interact with teachers or with other students. The measure therefore promises not only to be perilous to put in place but above all counter-productive given the time it will take to reverse.

Among the solutions concerned, you guessed it: the Office suite is in the line of fire. Including key tools such as Excel or Word, it has so far allowed students to collaborate on course files or take notes on the fly. Google, via Drive, Docs, Slides or Sheets, offers more or less similar interfaces with the added bonus of particularly powerful sharing options. But this will not have been enough to convince the legislators, who, at the same time, take advantage of it to limit the hegemony of GAFAM and therefore their dominant position. Between them, Alphabet and Microsoft weigh more than the GDP of France, which allows to contextualize the concerns of the moment a little more.

Real alternatives?

Unsurprisingly, French actors have therefore not hesitated to remind the national media of their own third-party programs. Among these, we can mention Atolia, which wants to be the “only workspace your team needs“. On the menu ? Task management to the Trello, visios like at Zoom (with perhaps a little less backdoors) or even a calendar like the very popular one from Google. Attractive, at least on paper. Indeed, like most of its peers, SaaS Labs, the publisher, capitalizes on the tracking data provided by Google Analytics to improve its results. Similarly, the developer uses the Facebook Pixel for its marketing campaigns. Oops.

© Atolia

Among Atolia’s customers, however, we find nothing less than the National Assembly, EDF, RTL, INA, the University of Strasbourg and even Nuclear Valley, whose files are known to be highly sensitive. As a reminder, last February, the CNIL (the police of the date in France) pinned down Alphabet for practices judged “illegal“ with Analytics.

Atolia, like other service providers such as Jamespot or Twake and Whaller, proclaims itself a member of Fab 8a grouping advertised as a more trusted alternative to Google and Microsoft.

The Framasoft choice

What if this wasn’t enough?

Not mentioned as an alternative by the statements of the Fab 8, supported by the government, there is also Framasoft. Its volunteers have been providing open-source, non-resale word processing and spreadsheet software for proprietary information for several years. Tools already recognized as truly independent, this time.


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