Preserving individual freedoms after the pandemic
The Covid 19 pandemic is an extraordinary experience that the vast
majority of the world’s countries had to face. The analogy was made
during the first lockdown with a war situation. The State had to take
charge of organising public space, public transport, work and even family
life, and measures to contain or trace the population and their data.
The pandemic has thus put into tension the trade-off between individual liberties
and the effectiveness of sanitary measures to tackle the spread of the epidemic.
The acceptance of this trade-off differs greatly from one country to another.
In democratic countries, it quickly became obvious that the management of
the crisis, and of the dilemma of individual freedom and efficiency, actually
required a co-production of the State with private agents, households and
companies, and of all the experts, in particular scientists and the media.
It was the cohesion of the whole society that was tested, its degree
of cooperation and trust between the different actors. It is crucial to
draw a distinction between horizontal trust, that of individuals towards
the rest of society, and vertical trust, that of citizens towards public
authorities, scientific experts and the credibility of information and media.
Another key dimension is trust in the “experts”, particularly scientists
and the media, as to the credibility of the measures. At a time when
vaccination has become the crucial issue for a way out of the crisis, it is
essential that trust in the scientific word and in the media be preserved.
This roundtable will allow the address all of these
issues, particularly around the following questions:
• Without a new social contract and a society of trust, can there be freedom?
Has the collective interest now triumphed over individual freedoms?
• Have freedoms been set aside during the crisis in the name of the
health emergency? Is there a trade-off between individual freedom and
the effectiveness of preventive measures against major pandemics?
• How can we rethink our relationship with information? Have
fake news killed democracy? Social networks, instantaneousness,
disinformation, emotions: as many obstacles to information?
Groupe Les Echos-Le Parisien
Open Market Institute
Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL)