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Digital Sovereignty is About More than Authority

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Digital sovereignty is the topic that keeps on giving. I’ve just uploaded a preprint of another paper I co-wrote with the wonderful Linda Monsees. After our very successful collaboration on the geopolitical imaginaries behind EU digital sovereignty practices, which was published in European Security last year, we have extended this line of inquiry further.

Our new paper, „Beyond Sovereignty as Authority: The Multiplicity of European Approaches to Digital Sovereignty“, identifies four ideas behind European aspirations for digital sovereignty. Here’s the abstract:

Digital Sovereignty is core to many contemporary debates on the regulation of digital technology, securing supply chains and strengthening the digital economy. In this paper, we focus on the European debates and policies around this project. This paper argues that „digital sovereignty“ is an attempt to rearticulate a European position in the ensuing Sino-American „tech war“. This strategy is mainly symbolic and performative, but it also has some tangible outputs that make it more than mere rhetoric. We argue that the notion of digital sovereignty should be understood more as an overarching economic, societal and geopolitical project, rather than a project aimed at achieving any kind of political sovereignty or autarky in the digital sector. We arrive at this conclusion by analysing European policy documents and commentaries from various stakeholders for two cases: platform governance and semiconductors. The case of platform governance shows how the EU and its member states struggle to extend their regulatory power over the „data monopolies“ of the major Silicon Valley companies. The other is semiconductors, where the EU has kickstarted several projects to improve the competitiveness of European manufacturers in a highly integrated global market. These examples demonstrate two things: a) that the pursuit of digital sovereignty does have some impact on the internet (platform regulation) but also extends to other technological fields beyond it (semiconductors); b) that digital sovereignty is not only a regulatory or technological project but also an economic, societal and geopolitical one.
The paper is available at ResearchGate – no paywall or anything.

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