French PM seeks digital shake-up

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has launched a public consultation on the digital society designed to shake up a country that he said “undoubtedly had work to do” on the issue.

The consultation, which will draw on contributions to an online discussion forum, will continue until the end of January, and feed into digital legislation proposed for 2015 by Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Axelle Lemaire as well as contributing to non-regulatory changes and redefining French and European strategy.

Valls noted that over ten years, numerous laws had contained digital provisions, but that such legislation was unsatisfactory as it had been “painted in small strokes, sometimes discordant”.

“What I expect from you, since you also want from me, is to help the government gain useful insights and depth, it’s the ‘hurry-up’, to be even more than itching powder, to go faster and better together,” Valls told an audience of digital specialists at the Numa innovation centre in Paris.

Valls emphasised four points among the themes of the consultation: modernising the French economy, freedom and responsibility in the digital age, massive use of data better to target public policy and fight against the digital divide.

He warned that Europe had to be “ready and waiting,” otherwise it would be “[written] out of history” with the Internet and the digital economy currently dominated by large American groups.

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