Digital Sovereignty: the overlap and conflict between states, enterprise and citizens

Digital sovereignty is an umbrella term that refers to the ability to exercise control over digital assets, such as data, content or digital infrastructure, or over the use of those assets. While this concept has arguably existed for decades, it has gained a new currency for a number of reasons, including concerns about state surveillance, dependence on extra-national infrastructure and online harms. Also of relevance is the growing desire among states to capture more of the economic benefits of cyberspace.

This paper reflects on the concept of digital sovereignty and how it is being interpreted around the world. It considers the international context of internet governance and how certain nations are acting to enhance or protect their digital sovereignty. It then considers how enterprises and civil society are acting to exert sovereignty over their own digital assets, most notably data. Finally, it reflects upon the implications of these developments for the future of the global internet.