Elyze is a mobile application that allows the user to find out which candidate for the Elysée corresponds to his ideas.
left or right to give your opinion on the proposals.
But several controversies have enamelled the young life of Elyze, released at the beginning of January, in particular on the potential resale of the data collected.
The creators of the app have made every effort to ensure that the latest version fixes bugs and biases.
They did not expect such a tidal wave.
François Mari, 19, and Grégoire Cazcarra, 22, created Elyze alongside their studies and other activities.
With the aim of “matching” the proposals of candidates for the presidential election with young citizens who sometimes have difficulty finding their way around the programmes.
A Tinder with electoral sauce?
“We did not want to refer to the name of the said application for legal reasons, but we claim to have been inspired by dating apps to create Elyze, and in particular by taking up the principle of the
and certain well-known visual characteristics of the
», Rolls out François Mari.
As a result, the application passed the milestone of two million downloads this week.
Launched barely a month ago, Elyze makes its two co-creators dizzy when we know the initial objective, namely “20,000 downloads”.
But this success plunges them into a whirlwind from which emerge several controversies concerning the transparency of their project, as well as its reliability.
François Mari and Grégoire Cazcarra met a few months ago via Instagram and Les Engagés, an association created by the latter who claims to be a citizen and a partisan.
The application shares the same goal as the structure: "Combat a galloping abstention which increases election after election and bring the youngest to take an interest in the political game".
At the helm to code the application is François Mari, who has been “developing for years” in parallel with his studies at HEC Montréal.
"I haven't slept much in the past few months," he admits with a smile.
Between the jet lag and all the bugs to fix and developments to do, I had no choice but to skip several classes.
"For the centralization of the proposals of the candidates, "we are surrounded by a team of about twenty volunteers who collect and dissect the programs, the announcements".
Under each proposal submitted to the user, instead of the photos dear to Tinder, it is possible to have more precise and developed elements.
“This is what takes the most time, succinctly explaining the candidate's wishes so that the user does not have a proposal that is too raw.
For the time being, we have started with 15 candidates and around 500 proposals, but we have an update to come, in particular to remove Arnaud Montebourg and, potentially, depending on the results of the popular primary, to add Christiane Taubira.
Even others, depending on the progress of sponsorships.
But the progress of the presidential campaign is not the only reason for regular updates from Elyze.
Several concerns and a hint of controversy arise as the popularity of the app grows.
Time for the first reviews
One of the first detractors of the app – and by far the best known – is Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
The LFI candidate for the presidential election, very active on Twitter, denounced in mid-January a "twisted blow".
Another twisted blow to the #Elyze app... Who benefits from this bad blow?
— Jean-Luc Melenchon (@JLMelenchon) January 12, 2022
“First there was a problem with the algorithm, relates Mathis Hammel, “Tech Evangelist” at CodinGame and passionate about programming and cybersecurity.
When there was a tie on the scores, it was automatically Emmanuel Macron who was put forward.
" Mathis Hammel also points out " that there could be a problem of calculation of the percentages [of compatibility between the opinions of the user and the candidates]
at the time of the final result or in the order of display: a candidate with 80% was in 3rd position while the one with 72% was 2nd”.
To try to solve these concerns, the specialist then looks at the code of Elyze, which was not available “because it takes a little time to go into open source”, confides François Mari. With reverse engineering techniques, Mathis Hammel discovers "a very complex code, difficult to disentangle". Falling "a little by chance", in his words, on "a concern related to the access permissions of the database", he realizes that he could not only modify the data of his own account on Elyze, but also modify the proposals of the candidates, or even withdraw those of a pretender to the Elysée. “We hadn't anticipated everything, admits François Mari. The project was a little over our head, but thanks to all these reports on Twitter, we were able to improve our code, fix bugs quickly and go live.
Data collection at the center of the debate
However, there is a new problem that bothers many users: the collection of political data that, at first, the creators are not ready to give up.
“We thought we could sell them to think tanks or other organizations, but at no time did we think of selling them to any political party,” assures François Mari.
In the first version of the app, the user was asked to enter their gender, date of birth and postal code.
However, “at the GDPR level, there was no legal basis, especially concerning political data”, affirms Mathis Hammel.
And the collection of this data raises some questions about anonymity.
In a study by Carnegie-Mellon University, it was estimated that 87% of Americans are uniquely identifiable from the trio zip code + gender + date of birth.
And guess what data is collected by the Elyze app that claims it's anonymous?
— Mathis Hammel (@MathisHammel) January 17, 2022
It is for this reason that the creators of Elyze received a warning from the Cnil, which was added to the outcry on Twitter.
Finally, the creators of Elyze gave up collecting data: “We have reviewed our basic mode of operation.
We thought that our model could be based on this collection, but in the end we changed our minds,” explains François Mari.
The imbroglio of the Play store
“Some thought of a raid of reports concerning the collection of data, but we only lacked rigor in the drafting of the conditions”, blows the co-creator.
"It's still bad luck.
The moment they come into compliance by moving their code to
, fixing bugs and announcing that they are renouncing data collection, Google is removing them from their app platform,” sympathizes Mathis Hammel.
“They have been in the eye of the storm for the entire software development community in France, and for a first experience, it's really not easy.
As of Wednesday, the app was still not available for download for Android users.
Asked whether Elyze had determined the right candidate for him, François Mari confirms that the latest version is reliable: “I found the podium of candidates likely to win my vote in April.
“Same story on the side of Mathis Hammel:” The current version is really usable.
I discovered candidates based on my opinions.
Presidential 2022: How to reconnect citizens with political leaders?
Presidential election 2022
By the Web
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