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Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty and Data Sovereignty



Some economic actors misunderstand the term “cyber sovereignty” as a form of autonomy in cyberspace. This Trend Analysis argues that using the term “cyber sovereignty” in the same way as “autonomy” is a misnomer. To do this, the analysis explores the definition and the use of the term “cyber sovereignty”. It examines national cybersecurity strategies to see how states use the term. The results show that, with the exception of France, states rarely refer to this concept. This is due to the French bottom-up approach to sovereignty. The Trend Analysis looks then at the academic debate on cyber sovereignty and finds that it focuses on the applicability of principles of sovereignty in cyberspace. Finally, the research examines the debate on sovereignty in other domains: sea, air, and space. This showed that each domain went through discussions on the applicability of sovereignty, before the normalization of practices in international treaties.
Zürich, November 2018
Version 2
Risk and Resilience Team
Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zürich
Trend Analysis:
Cyber Sovereignty and
Data Sovereignty
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
Authors: Marie Baezner, Patrice Robin
© 2018 Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zürich
Center for Security Studies
Haldeneggsteig 4
ETH Zurich
CH-8092 Zurich
Tel.: +41-44-632 40 25
Analysis prepared by: Center for Security Studies (CSS),
ETH Zurich
ETH-CSS project management: Tim Prior, Head of the
Risk and Resilience Research Group, Myriam Dunn
Cavelty, Deputy Head for Research and Teaching,
Andreas Wenger, Director of the CSS
Disclaimer: The opinions presented in this study
exclusively reflect the authors’ views.
Please cite as: Baezner, Marie; Robin, Patrice (2018).
Cyber sovereignty and Data sovereignty, Version 2,
Cyberdefense Trend Analysis, Center for Security
Studies (CSS), ETH Zürich.
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
Table of Contents
1 Introduction 5
2 Definition of cyber sovereignty 7
3 Empirical observations 8
3.1 Scan of national cybersecurity strategies 8
3.2 Results and analysis 8
Types of states 8
Frequency of use 8
Context 9
Year of publication 9
Review of strategies 9
3.3 Conclusion 9
3.4 Exception: France 10
4 Academic debate 11
4.1 Sovereignty in the context of war 11
Applicability of International Law to
cyberspace 11
Sovereignty and equality in cyberspace 11
Can a cyberattack constitute use of force?
The question of responsibility and
attribution in cyberspace 12
4.2 Sovereignty in the context of domestic control 12
4.3 Conclusion 12
5 Comparison to other domains 13
5.1 No new debate 13
Sovereignty in the maritime domain 13
Sovereignty in the air domain 13
Sovereignty in the space domain 13
5.2 Comparison with cyberspace 13
Is cyberspace a global commons? 13
Conclusion 14
6 Conclusion 15
7 Annex 1 16
8 Glossary 24
9 Abbreviations 24
10 Bibliography 24
Addendum 26
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
Executive Summary
Objective and methods
The development of technology and cyberspace
challenges traditional concepts of state boundaries and
the principles of International Law. In its early days, the
internet was said to be immune to sovereignty, and it
was believed that freedom of speech would thrive as a
result. It was assumed states would be kept at arm’s
length from internet governance. However, recent
history has shown that state involvement in the
development of cyberspace was ultimately inevitable.
Sovereignty, a fundamental tenet of statehood, could
not be simply ignored once it was clear the technology
could be used for political gain.
Some economic actors have demanded greater
cyber sovereignty to protect industrial and other
economic sectors, assuming that cyber sovereignty is a
form of autonomy in cyberspace. However, these
demands demonstrate that the concept of sovereignty
is still misunderstood or distorted from its definition in
International Law. This Trend Analysis therefore seeks to
shed light on the concept of cyber sovereignty by
examining the ways in which states employ the concepts
of sovereignty and cyber sovereignty in their national
cybersecurity strategies. It then analyzes academic
discussions of cyber sovereignty to establish whether a
particular definition of this concept has become more
prevalent than others. Finally, this Trend Analysis
explores the historical development of the concept of
sovereignty in other domains, such as sea, air and space,
in order to compare it with the cyberspace domain.
Empirical research on the use of the concepts of
sovereignty and cyber sovereignty in national
cybersecurity strategies revealed that only a minority of
states used the term “sovereignty”, and only one used
the term “cyber sovereignty”. The concept was primarily
used by Western states, referring to a definition of
sovereignty that closely matched the understanding
described by International Law. States’ cybersecurity
strategies mostly displayed awareness that cyberattacks
may constitute a threat to state sovereignty, or to re-
emphasize that state sovereignty should be protected.
To achieve this end, states planned to improve
cybersecurity in the information technologies and
networks of governmental, defense and critical
infrastructures. This research revealed France as an
exception; Paris referenced sovereignty most
extensively throughout its national cybersecurity
strategies. This difference may be explained by a
specifically French historical and national understanding
of the concept of sovereignty, as compared to the
concept of state sovereignty in International Law.
A review of academic discussions on cyber
sovereignty showed that academic debate mostly
revolves around the application of the concept of state
sovereignty in cyberspace. Scholars discuss rights and
obligations tied to state sovereignty and how these
might be applied in cyberspace. Researchers have also
noted the physical dimension of sovereignty in
cyberspace; physical infrastructures are necessary for
the proper function of cyberspace, and most of those
infrastructures are located on claimed territory. State
sovereignty in cyberspace could therefore be seen as an
extension of a state’s territorial sovereignty. Academic
discussions also revolve around the implications of state
sovereignty in cyberspace, such as the definition of the
use of force in cyberspace or the right to use cybertools
in war.
Comparing the development of sovereignty
norms in other domains showed that the discussion of
the applicability of sovereignty in new situations evolved
over a considerable time period. While previous
sovereignty norms have developed in natural spaces
considered as a global commons, cyberspace, which is
man-made, might not be considered as a global
commons. Overall, relevant discussions on sovereignty
in other domains were similar to those regarding
cyberspace, and showed that sovereignty issues in
cyberspace will not be resolved overnight.
Finally, this Trend Analysis demonstrates that the
most common understanding of cyber sovereignty is
derived from its definition under International Law. It
also shows that the European economic sector and
French authorities lead an alternative debate on cyber
sovereignty, which emphasizes strategic autonomy over
traditional sovereignty. The concept of strategic
autonomy is intrinsic to the wider protection of state
sovereignty, and it consists of states maintaining control
over data processing, data storage, and information
technology infrastructures. As such, strategic autonomy
and state sovereignty need to be differentiated.
This updated version of the Trend Analysis on
Cyber Sovereignty includes an addendum on data
sovereignty. The purpose of the addendum is to analyze
the concept of data sovereignty in detail, which was
overlooked in the first version of the Trend Analysis. The
concept of data sovereignty lacks a fixed definition but
has been regularly used in politics, industries and law.
This addendum defines data sovereignty as a state’s
ability to control data originating and passing through
their territory.
The addendum examined national cybersecurity
strategies to observe the use of the term “data
sovereignty” in these documents. The research revealed
that the term was not used in national strategies, but
may be discussed at other political levels. After Edward
Snowden’s revelations on US mass surveillance of the
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
internet in June 2013, many states started to explore
technical and legal ways to control data originating from
and passing through their territories. Primarily, attempts
were focused on ‘tying’ data to a specific territory.
Proposed technical solutions included: the construction
of a submarine internet cable between Latin America
and Europe, bypassing the US; building a regional
routing network; creating a national cloud computing
service; and starting a national email service. These
technical solutions were shown to be both inefficient
and ineffective in preventing foreign surveillance of
data. Technical experts reckon that data would be better
protected with encryption than by tying data to a
specific territory.
Nevertheless, the suggested technical and legal
measures seem to miss the point of protecting data
against foreign surveillance. To protect data originating
in their territory, states should prioritize educating their
population on ways to protect their personal data.
States should also inform and raise awareness in the
population about how businesses use their personal
data. The analysis also suggested that the states with the
most advanced data sovereignty policies are
authoritarian. Democratic states that decide to
strengthen their data sovereignty may expose
themselves to criticism and risk unfavorable
comparisons to these regimes.
The documents used for this Trend Analysis are
open-source. Many national cybersecurity strategies are
openly accessible, but some states keep these
documents confidential; these states, therefore, could
not be included in the research. As a result, the empirical
research may have been biased by this lack of universal
In addition, the documents studied in this Trend
Analysis were written in English. This was desirable for
methodological uniformity in the analysis, but there may
be variations between the original documents and their
English versions. An example of such a discrepancy was
observed in the French 2015 national digital strategy, in
which the word “sovereignty” in the French version was
occasionally replaced by the words “digital strategic
autonomy” in the English document.
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
1 Introduction
The development of cyberspace and technology
has significantly changed the modern world, and
prompted a re-evaluation of traditional International
Law principles such as sovereignty. In its early days, the
internet was governed by its users and believed to be
immune to state sovereignty due to its
interconnectedness and transnational nature (Franzese,
2009). However, as the number of internet users
expanded across the world and its potential applications
in the military and political domains became clear, states
increasingly saw the benefit of possess at least some
degree of sovereignty over virtual space. International
discussions of the extent and applicability of state
sovereignty to cyberspace came to replace the more
idealistic views of the earlier era.
The role of state sovereignty in cyberspace has
been widely discussed in academic literature. The
United Nations Governmental Group of Experts1
(UNGGE)2 decided that International Law, including
state sovereignty, was applicable in cyberspace (United
Nations General Assembly, 2015). This decision implied
that the Law of Armed Conflict was applicable in
cyberspace, as well as all rights and obligations tied to
principles of sovereignty. The Tallinn Manual on the
International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare and the
Tallinn Manual 2.0, which discuss the status of the
current International Law in reference to cyberspace,
came to the same conclusion regarding state
sovereignty in cyberspace (Schmitt and NATO
Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, 2017,
2013). Relevant literature mostly discusses how
International Law principles can be applied in
cyberspace and what challenges arise in this context
(Jensen, 2015, 2011). The literature on sovereignty in
cyberspace also analyzes the control that some states
exercise over internet content, and the legal
justifications for censorship based on principles of state
sovereignty (Lotrionte, 2013; Maxey, 2017a). The fact
that the majority of academic literature focuses on the
legal implications of sovereignty in cyberspace indicates
that the issue of cyber sovereignty is most often framed
and understood as a matter of International Law.
Even though cyber sovereignty has been
discussed at length in academic literature, it has not
been consistently defined and remains vague. The
definitions found in the literature range from an
extension of the traditional understanding of
International Law to cyberspace through to more diffuse
concepts of control and independence. As definitions
expand beyond the delineations of International Law,
understandings often fail to view sovereignty as
1 In 2004, the United Nations tasked a group of international experts
to discuss the global cybersecurity agenda and the application of
International Law in cyberspace. The group regularly publishes reports
on the status of these issues (Digital Watch Observatory, 2017).
intrinsically linked to its associated legal rights and
obligations. Moreover, this approach to defining cyber
sovereignty - in terms of state control and independence
in cyberspace - is a controversial one, as it may conflate
issues of strategic autonomy with the separate concept
of cyber sovereignty. While autonomy is highly relevant
to state sovereignty, they are not synonymous.
This Trend Analysis suggests that how the
concept of cyber sovereignty is applied needs to be
examined in greater detail. Doing so can help avoid
misunderstandings and ensure there is clarity in how
policy-makers and academics use the term “cyber
sovereignty” in their work.
The first part of this Trend Analysis proceeds as
follows. Section 2 defines the concept of cyber
sovereignty for the purposes of this document, in order
to avoid any misunderstandings.
Section 3 examines national cybersecurity
strategies to understand how policy-makers understand
the terms “sovereignty” and “cyber sovereignty”. This
analysis is based on a scan for these terms in national
cybersecurity strategies. The results are then analyzed
further to determine which types of states use these
concepts, the frequency of their use, the context in
which the concepts are used, and how the use of this
term has changed over time.
In Section 4, the research looks at the major
topics of academic debate regarding cyber sovereignty,
identifying the ways in which academics approach cyber
sovereignty, in which contexts, and the details they
emphasize in their research.
Section 5 analyzes the evolution of the laws and
norms of sovereignty in other domains, with an eye to
compare previous discussions with the current debate
regarding cyberspace.
Section 6 presents the general conclusions of this
Trend Analysis and outlines the alternative debate
revolving around the definition of cyber sovereignty in
terms of state control and independence in cyberspace.
The second part of this Trend Analysis updates
this document to include an addendum on data
sovereignty. After the publication of the Trend Analysis
on cyber sovereignty, it came to our attention that some
economic actors and states had additional concerns
regarding the financial impacts of controlling data
through data sovereignty. To address this analysis gap,
the addendum on data sovereignty was added to the
overarching Trend Analysis on cyber sovereignty. The
goal of this addendum is explicitly define data
sovereignty and to analyze the usage of the term to
better understand it.
The addendum proceeds as follows. Section 1
explores the various definitions of the term “data
2 Abbreviations are listed in Section 9.
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
sovereignty.” Section 2 examines national cybersecurity
strategies with the same methodology mentioned
above, to analyze the use of the term “data sovereignty”
by nation states. Section 3 analyzes the technical and
legal solutions discussed by states to achieve data
sovereignty. For each category, the addendum presents
several potential solutions some states have employed,
and examines the efficacy of their efforts to protect their
data from foreign surveillance. Section 4 presents
general conclusions from this addendum that can be
applied to the broader Trend Analysis on cyber
sovereignty, and suggests some measures on ways to
improve data protection.
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
2 Definition of cyber
While cyber sovereignty is a vague concept in
general that is often used in relation to state power and
independence in cyberspace, sovereignty itself is a
clearly defined concept in International Law. Therefore,
the concept of cyber sovereignty needs to be defined
more precisely.
The concept of sovereignty goes back to the
Peace of Westphalia of 1648, which established the
Westphalian system of considering states to have
sovereignty over their respective territories and
domestic affairs, in which other states should not
interfere (Franzese, 2009). The principle of sovereignty,
which is inseparable from International Law, is also
associated with the principle of equality, which implies
that each state is equal under International Law and
therefore has no power over other states (Jensen,
2015). Sovereignty is additionally one of the elements
that constitute a state under International Law.
Accordingly, a state, to exist as such, must have a
population, a territory, effective political power and
sovereignty (Daillier et al., 2009).
The principle of sovereignty entails rights and
obligations. Rights are set on two levels: domestic and
international. Domestic rights are derived from the fact
that states may act as they wish within their territories:
they are independent in their domestic actions. At the
international level, this right consists of states’ ability to
represent their respective territories and populations in
international forums. However, at the international
level, state sovereignty must conform to principles of
International Law, including decisions of the United
Nations (UN) Security Council and the Law of Armed
Conflict (Daillier et al., 2009; Jensen, 2015).
Obligations tied to sovereignty are composed of
the obligation to recognize other states as sovereign, to
refrain from intervening in other states’ affairs, and to
assume control over the actions of actors within a state’s
own territory (Daillier et al., 2009; Jensen, 2015).
Yet, the cross-border nature of cyberspace
challenges state sovereignty and raises questions as to
whether and how these principles of International Law
can be applied to cyberspace. These questions will be
examined in greater detail in Section 3, as they also form
part of a wider academic debate.
In 2015, the UNGGE confirmed that states should
respect International Law and sovereignty rights and
obligations in their use of information and
communications technologies, including in cyberspace
(United Nations General Assembly, 2015). This implies
that states should conform to the aforementioned rights
and obligations in their activities in cyberspace. The
UNGGE based its argument on the fact that cyberspace
does not exist without physical infrastructures (e.g.
servers and cables physically located on states’
territories), and these infrastructures are subject to
states’ national jurisdictions (Kanuck, 2010).
Cyber sovereignty for the purposes of this Trend
Analysis and within current academic debate is defined
as the application of principles of state sovereignty to
Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations about the
internet mass surveillance program of the US National
Security Agency (NSA) revealed that technologies are
vulnerable to other states’ dominance in the domain of
information and communication technologies.
Vulnerabilities in both hardware and software do not
merely constitute strictly technical vulnerabilities, but
rather allow states to access information about another
states population and national security secrets.
Snowden’s revelations caused a loss of trust in these
technologies and in US cyber-activities. The Snowden
Affair started a wave of indignation and reflection
among states on ways to protect what they called their
cyber sovereignty. However, this use of the term cyber
sovereignty is a misnomer. While it is true that state
sovereignty was violated by these intrusions and
massive espionage campaigns, it is necessary to
differentiate between strategic autonomy issues related
to cybersecurity and cyber sovereignty as defined by
International Law. As will be discussed further in Section
6, the former concerns states’ strategic ability to act
autonomously at all levels of Grand Strategy, integrating
military, economic, diplomatic and information
resources, by building cyber capabilities based on
trustworthy technologies. The latter, however, refers to
the right to go to war and its legal implications.
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
3 Empirical observations
In this section, the study examines the definition
of cyber sovereignty used by states in their national
cybersecurity strategies. The research also looks at
whether and how states employ the concepts of cyber
sovereignty and sovereignty in general.
3.1 Scan of national cybersecurity
The previous section defined the term cyber
sovereignty as the application of state sovereignty rights
and obligations to cyberspace. Given this definition, the
aim was to see if states employed this term in their
respective national cybersecurity strategies.
A total of 93 national cybersecurity and
cyberdefense strategies3 were scanned for the words
sovereignty and cyber sovereignty. This research
focused exclusively on publicly available strategy
documents published in English. Consequently,
countries without national cybersecurity strategies, or
countries that do not make their strategies publicly
available or do not publish documents in English were
not included in this research.
Open-source research using the International
Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Global Cybersecurity
Index (2017) and the ITU National Strategies Repository
(2018) showed that 84 out of 193 countries worldwide
had publicly available national cybersecurity strategies,
and 69 states had their national strategies translated
into English as per December 2017. In some cases, there
were references to states having produced national
cybersecurity strategies, but the relevant documents
could not be located in open-source researches (e.g.
Oman and Algeria).
The type of states that have national
cybersecurity strategies are predominantly major
powers and Western states, with the exception of some
African, Arabic and South American states. Even though
fewer than half of all states worldwide have a national
cybersecurity strategy, this research was able to identify
potential trends or patterns in the definition and use of
the words “sovereignty” and “cyber sovereignty”.
However, due to constraints of time and space,
the research was restricted to searches for words rather
than concepts, which might have limited its results. It is
in fact possible that some states do not use the words
“sovereignty” or “cyber sovereignty” in their national
cybersecurity strategies but employ similar concepts.
These would not have been included in the results but
may have provided further insights into the
understanding of sovereignty in cyberspace.
3 A list of the countries selected for this scan is provided in Annex 1,
Section 7.
In addition to the scan for words, the research
also looked at the type of states that used these words
as well as at the contexts in which they were employed
and the year the relevant strategy was published. In
some cases, both current and older strategies of a single
state were scanned to allow changes over time to be
identified. For example, in the case of France, both the
2015 National Digital Security Strategy and the 2011
Information Systems Defence and Security were
examined. These kinds of information further our
understanding of how states understand and use the
words “sovereignty” and “cyber sovereignty” and
enable us to detect possible differences between states.
3.2 Results and analysis
The scan revealed that 18 out of 93 documents
contained the word “sovereignty” and only one
contained the term “cyber sovereignty”.
Types of states
Out of 69 states with publicly available national
cybersecurity strategies in English, only 15 states
referred to the researched words. Half of the strategies
containing the word “sovereignty” were from Western
states, namely Canada, Finland, France, Hungary,
Portugal, Spain, Australia and the UK, whereas the other
half consisted of Chile, Colombia, Ghana, Japan, Nigeria,
Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Canada was the only state to use the term “cyber
These results show that states use the concept of
“sovereignty” in their national cybersecurity strategies
relatively rarely. Based on the group of states that do
use the term, it can be concluded that sovereignty in
cybersecurity is mostly a Western concept, and Western
states indeed tend to use the term more frequently than
others. However, Western states are also over-
represented in this group, as they account for a large
portion of states that have published national
cybersecurity strategies.
Frequency of use
Even though the words “sovereignty” and “cyber
sovereignty” were found in these strategies, they were
not used very often. On average, the word “sovereignty”
was used twice in a document. Exceptions were noted in
the strategies of Finland, Nigeria and Portugal, in which
the word “sovereignty” was mentioned at least three
times. However, one state, namely France, stood out in
that it mentioned the word “sovereignty” nine times in
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
its 2011 strategy and five times in its 2015 strategy. This
particularity will be further discussed in subsection 3.4.
These results demonstrate that, while states use
the word “sovereignty” in their national cybersecurity
strategies, they rarely do so more than once in the
document. This corroborates the previous finding that
states tend to use the term infrequently in their
The contexts in which the word “sovereignty”
was used in strategies were various, but the word was
never clearly defined in any of the documents. First,
some states used the word in the context of states
needing to protect the information systems of
governments, defense forces and critical infrastructures
in order to protect state sovereignty itself. Second,
states used the word “sovereignty” in reference to other
policy documents not necessarily related to
cybersecurity. Third, states referred to cyberattacks or
other malicious cyber-activities constituting threats to
their sovereignty. Finally, states argued that a secure
cyberspace would protect their sovereignty. States
sometimes used the concept of sovereignty in other
contexts that were not relevant for this Trend Analysis.
It is worth mentioning that Finland, in its background
document to its 2013 Cyber Security Strategy, mentions
that it is aware of international discussions regarding
whether cyberattacks constitute a use of force or not.
Again, France stood out through its use of the concept
of sovereignty, which sometimes aligned, but mostly
differed from the use of the term by other states.
These findings confirm a lack of shared
understanding and definition of the word “sovereignty”
in the context of cybersecurity, although states tend to
apply the traditional Westphalian definition in their
strategies by expressing concerns about cyberattacks
and insecure cyberspace constituting threats to their
Year of publication
In terms of the year of publication of national
cybersecurity strategies, 55 out of the 93 studied
documents were published before and 38 after Edward
Snowden’s 2013 revelations. Out of 18 documents
containing the words “sovereignty” and “cyber
sovereignty”, 13 documents were published before
2013 and five documents after. However, there is no
clear difference in the use of the concept of sovereignty
between documents written before 2013 and the ones
written later. The only difference lies in the fact that
strategies published after 2013 tend to argue more
strongly for the necessity of a secure cyberspace in order
to ensure state sovereignty.
These results do not confirm the hypothesis that
Edward Snowden’s revelations caused indignation
among states and a resurgence of sovereignty
terminology. However, only a minority of documents
containing the word “sovereignty” were written after
2013. It is possible that strategies intended for
publication in subsequent years may include more
references to the protection of state sovereignty in
Review of strategies
As far as updated strategies are concerned, eight
states revised their national cybersecurity strategies at
least once between 2000 and December 2017. Four of
these did not reuse the concept of sovereignty in their
new strategies, three used it again and one added the
These findings do not confirm any significant
change in the use of the concept of sovereignty over
3.3 Conclusion
These results demonstrate that, in general, states
only use the termsovereigntyinfrequently in their
national cybersecurity strategies, and even where they
do use the term, they tend to do so rarely and without
defining it clearly. Also, states tend not to share a
common understanding of the term. However, it
appears that the Westphalian understanding of the
sovereignty concept prevails among states in the
context of cybersecurity. It also appears that, where the
concept of sovereignty is used in strategies, its use does
not evolve over time and was barely impacted by
Edward Snowden’s revelations.
The unique case of Canada’s 2010 national
cybersecurity strategythe sole document to mention
the term “cyber sovereignty” does not reveal much on
the use of the term. It only confirms a certain vagueness
maintained around the concept, as it is not clearly
defined in the document, which simply states that cyber
sovereignty is an important element of Canada’s
cybersecurity strategy.
While states rarely use the term “sovereignty” in
their policy documents, it is possible that they refer to
this concept in greater detail in doctrinal documents
that may not be publicly available. Sovereignty may also
be discussed more informally in domestic and/or
international forums, but these discussions are not
necessarily made explicit in policies.
Nevertheless, France stands out in any of these
observations because of its unique understanding and
use of the concept of sovereignty and its express
reference to sovereignty in its national cybersecurity
strategy. It is possible that other states have a similar
approach to sovereignty but are less transparent about
it than France.
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
3.4 Exception: France
In this research, France was unique among the
states examined in that it used the word “sovereignty”
more frequently and in different contexts. This sub-
section examines France’s legal definition of sovereignty
to establish whether this difference is due to historical,
legal or political reasons.
The French constitution from 1958 does not
define international sovereignty, only national
sovereignty (Combacau, 2001). National sovereignty
consists in being the holder of the supreme national
authority. This power belongs to the people, who are
represented by a political body. This concept was
originally introduced during the time of the French
Revolution in Article 3 of the 1789 Declaration of the
Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which gave sovereignty
to the population and its political representatives
(Direction de l’information légale et administrative,
2014). This concept of sovereignty is also referred to as
popular sovereignty. French popular sovereignty differs
from the Westphalian concept of sovereignty in that it is
based on a bottom-up rather than a top-down approach.
In France, the definition of international sovereignty is
based on principles of national sovereignty.
That being said, France’s use of the word
“sovereignty” in its 2011 national cybersecurity
strategies mostly related to potential threats that
cyberattacks might pose to its sovereignty (Agence
Nationale de la Sécurité des Systèmes d’Informations,
2011). This approach does not differ much from other
states’ understanding of sovereignty in their national
cybersecurity strategies.
However, France’s 2015 national digital security
strategy places greater emphasis on the need for states
to maintain their autonomy in cyberspace through the
development of trustworthy technologies and
partnerships. There is also an acceptance that states
cannot survive without using digital technologies and
that these technologies can impact indirectly on state
sovereignty (e.g. via the economy or national currency).
There are distinct concerns regarding the dominance of
certain private companies (e.g. Google, Amazon,
Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft) over digital
technologies and cyberspace. These concerns relate
mostly to the risk that these companies may abuse their
power, deploy their technologies against French
interests or deny access to cyberspace to French
authorities and citizens. The suggested solution to these
concerns entails the development of domestic and
European industries to counter the monopolistic
position of the aforementioned private companies.
France’s strategy also refers to the sovereignty of other
states needing to be respected in cases where France
wishes to promote European regulations to increase the
European Union’s (EU) digital autonomy (Secrétariat
Général de la Défense et de la Sécurité Nationale,
It is worth mentioning that there are differences
between the French version and the English version of
the 2015 document. In the French version, the word
“sovereignty” (souverainité) is sometimes rendered as
“digital strategic autonomy” in English (Secrétariat
Général de la Défense et de la Sécurité Nationale, 2015a,
2015b). This substitution, which is mostly found in the
part of the strategy that relates to the development of
EU autonomy in digital technologies, distinctly confirms
that the French understanding of sovereignty is mainly
based on the autonomy of actions and decisions. This
definition clearly differs from the aforementioned
definition based on International Law and leans toward
the understanding of the concept from a strategic
autonomy perspective.
France is therefore an exception as far as
reference to cyber sovereignty in the country’s national
cybersecurity strategy is concerned. This idiosyncratic
approach can be explained in historical terms, as the
concept of popular sovereignty and French strategic
culture were shaped by the French Revolution. The
French understanding of sovereignty in terms of
strategic autonomy is derived from French strategic
culture, which seeks to achieve this type of autonomy
and frames the country as a driving force of the
development of strategic autonomy at the level of the
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
4 Academic debate
The empirical observations showed that most
states do not discuss issues of cyber sovereignty in their
national cybersecurity strategies. Furthermore, when
the internet was developed, its creators wanted it to be
immune to state sovereignty. However, academia holds
an interesting body of literature on sovereignty in
cyberspace. This section will look into this literature and
its main debates regarding cyber sovereignty. This
investigation provides a better understanding of the
main academic discussions in this field and the definition
of cyber sovereignty used in academic literature.
4.1 Sovereignty in the context of war
The main theme of academic literature on
sovereignty in the context of cybersecurity concerns
International Law and more specifically war and its legal
rights and obligations.
Applicability of International Law to cyberspace
The overarching debate in academia concerns
the applicability of International Law in cyberspace.
Cyberspace is a man-made domain that would not exist
without human intervention. It transcends boundaries
and constitutes a challenge for International Law and
states because of its lack of territoriality. On the one
hand, cyberspace is dependent on physical
infrastructures which fall under territoriality principles.
On the other hand, cyber-activities cannot be contained
domestically or bound to a territory because of the
interconnectedness of cyberspace (Jensen, 2015;
Kanuck, 2010). The challenge resides in this
immateriality and interconnectedness.
As mentioned above, the UNGGE reaffirmed in
2015 that states should respect and apply the principles
of International Law in cyberspace. As a consequence of
this decision, cyber-activities are subject to the rights
and obligations of International Law (e.g. respecting UN
Security Council resolutions and the Law of Armed
Conflict) (Jensen, 2015).
In 2013, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence
Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) published a non-binding
manual on the applicability of International Law to cyber
warfare, which was updated in 2017. These so-called
Tallinn Manuals explain the current legal debate about
the applicability of International Law in the cyber
domain in the context of war, specifying, for example,
that states are under an obligation to prevent third-
party actors from using their information and
communication infrastructures to harm another state
(Lotrionte, 2013). However, the first Tallinn Manual was
criticized because it was prepared upon the request of
the NATO CCDCOE and therefore conveyed a largely
Western vision of the applicability of International Law
in cyberspace, which may not reflect other states’ views
on the subject. The Tallinn Manual 2.0 tried to correct
this weakness by expanding its pool of experts to include
more non-NATO members.
Sovereignty and equality in cyberspace
Cyberspace challenges not only the principles of
International Law, but also the principle of state
sovereignty, and relevant academic discussions revolve
around the existence and recognition of state
sovereignty in cyberspace. Scholars agree that state
sovereignty exists in cyberspace due to the existence of
physical infrastructures necessary for the existence of
cyberspace, and sovereignty in cyberspace is therefore
perceived as an extension of the territorial principle of
sovereignty (Franzese, 2009; Lotrionte, 2013).
In International Law, state sovereignty defines
rights and obligations. The latter consist of states
recognizing other states as sovereign, refraining from
intervening in other states’ affairs and needing to
control actions of actors within their own territories.
These elements are applicable in cyberspace according
to Jensen (2015), who argued that the recognition of
other states’ sovereignty in cyberspace consists of states
recognizing that other states are sovereign and free to
develop their own cyber capabilities without foreign
interference. Recognition of states’ sovereignty in
cyberspace also relates to the principle of equality and
implies that states need to regard each other as equals.
If the principle of equality is respected, states should
also recognize other states as sovereign (Franzese, 2009;
Jensen, 2015).
Can a cyberattack constitute use of force?
Another aspect of International Law that has
been the subject of academic discussions concerns the
definition of the use of force in cyberspace and its
possible consequences. This particular issue is
concerned with how cyberattacks can qualify as use of
force and therefore be considered to constitute a
violation of another state’s sovereignty. Qualifying a
cyberattack as a use of force or act of aggression could
trigger the victim state’s right of self-defense, which is
regarded as a legitimate reason for going to war
(Lotrionte, 2013; Stahl, 2011).
It has been suggested that, in practice, states
could see cyberattacks as acts of war. Academics appear
to agree that a cyberattack on critical national
infrastructure that causes damage and can be attributed
to a state constitutes a violation of the Law of Armed
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
Conflict (Lotrionte, 2013). Stuxnet4, a piece of malware5
used to damage facilities enriching uranium for nuclear
purposes in Iran, is a good example of a cybertool
specially designed to cause damage without crossing the
threshold of what constitutes an act or war
(Rosenbaum, 2012).
The question of responsibility and attribution in
However, academic literature continues to
identify the attribution part of a cyberattack as a serious
challenge. The attribution problem is defined as the
uncertainty associated with trying to attribute a
cyberattack. Attribution is both a technical activity that
is based on technical and circumstantial evidence, and a
political act, where state representatives officially and
publicly attribute an attack. Cyberattacks cannot be
attributed to the actual perpetrator with 100%
certainty. There is therefore always the possibility that
the accused party may not in fact be the actual attacker.
It has been observed that, due to this attribution
uncertainty and additional technicalities such as the
random routing of data packets, states seem reluctant
to accept responsibility for cyber-activities originating
from their territories (Jensen, 2015). The question of
responsibility is relevant to the academic debate
because another state’s responsibility is a necessary
prerequisite for a state to be able to invoke the right of
self-defense. The difficulties tied to the attribution
problem and the fact that data randomly jump from one
router to another make it easier for states to avoid
responsibility. At the same time, states are concerned
about being held responsible for malicious cyber-
activities transiting their infrastructures.
This issue is further complicated by the problem
of non-state actors committing malicious cyber-
activities. These actors bring even greater uncertainty to
the attribution process, as states may employ, finance
or train such actors to attack another state (Lotrionte,
2013; Stahl, 2011). The question of non-state actors
perpetrating malicious acts against another state is
already a complex issue in International Law outside of
cyberspace, as it raises problems regarding state
responsibility for controlling or assisting non-state
actors. In cyberspace, the problem is even more
complicated, as both non-state actors and states are
able to play on the attribution problem to avoid
responsibility. Another issue in cyberspace is how victim
states can respond to non-state actors located within
another state’s territory. This problem is tied to the
question of state responsibility and state control over
non-state actors (Lotrionte, 2013).
4 For more information on Stuxnet, see Baezner, Marie; Robin, Patrice
(2017): Hotspot Analysis: Stuxnet, October 2017, Center for Security
Studies (CSS), ETH Zürich.
4.2 Sovereignty in the context of
domestic control
Scholars do not solely examine sovereignty in
cyberspace in the context of war. There is also the issue
of states claiming greater sovereignty over cyberspace
by restricting access to internet content within their
territories. Some states, among them China, have
decided that certain internet content may harm their
people and that they need to take action to suppress
such content (Lotrionte, 2013). While this is an
expression of state sovereignty over its own territory, it
also has a political impact on international relations.
Demchak and Dombrowski (2013) argue that this type of
conduct is evidence of a “Westphalian system”
developing in cyberspace.
4.3 Conclusion
Academic debate in this field largely focuses on
whether and how International law can and should be
applied in cyberspace. It is generally accepted that
International Law is applicable in cyberspace, but a
number of details, including the definition of the use of
force and the attribution problem, still remain to be
5 Technical terms are explained in a glossary in Section 8.
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
5 Comparison to other
This section examines previous discussions of
sovereignty in other domains and compares them with
the current discussions of sovereignty in cyberspace in
order to shed light on how state sovereignty has been
applied to these domains. This in turn will further our
understanding of the current discussions regarding
5.1 No new debate
The debate revolving around the issue of the
applicability of state sovereignty in cyberspace also took
place regarding other domains such as sea, air and
space. In all of these domains, technology acted as a
critical element in statescontrol over the new domains
by creating new economic and military opportunities.
However, since states are not equal in their ability to
control domains, these new domains needed to be
subjected to international regulation. These
developments demonstrate that the current discussions
regarding the applicability of state sovereignty and
associated rights and obligations in cyberspace do not
constitute a new debate.
Sovereignty in the maritime domain
The seas were traditionally regarded as a global
commons, meaning that they cannot be owned but are
available to all. Seas and their resources were open to
all, without any state claiming ownership, as early as in
Ancient Roman times, with the debate over seas
constituting a global commons or belonging to states
only starting at the end of the 16th century, as maritime
and navigation technologies evolved. By the end of the
17th century, a distinction was made between high seas,
which remained open to all, and coastal waters, which
states could lay claims to. In the 19th century, these
principles came to be seen as falling under International
Law, but the extent of coastal waters remained to be
defined. The issue was debated between supporters of
more extensive coastal waters, who often claimed
sovereignty over natural resources such as oil or natural
gas, and supporters of more limited coastal waters. The
debate was largely resolved by the 1982 UN Convention
on the Law of the Sea, which set the limit of territorial
waters to twelve nautical miles (United Nations, 1982).
States are able to claim sovereignty over waters within
this distance from their coasts, although some waters
are still contested (Franzese, 2009; Stang, 2013).
Sovereignty in the air domain
Like the seas, air was traditionally regarded as a
global commons, although it was generally accepted in
Western states that an owner of land also owned the air
above it. The concept of air sovereignty only evolved
together with the development of aviation. In the early
1900s, a relevant debate emerged between the
supporters of free airspace and the supporters of air
sovereignty. The latter prevailed in practice, resulting in
International Law principles of sovereignty being applied
de facto to airspace. Air sovereignty became customary
international law by the end of the First World War, and
the first multilateral agreement to regulate airspace was
signed in 1919. The concept of air sovereignty was
highlighted by the Convention of Chicago on
International Civil Aviation in 1944, which, in its first
article, notes that states recognize that all states have
sovereignty over the air above their territories
(International Civil Aviation Organization, 2006). This
Convention formalized the application of International
Law principles to sovereignty in airspace. (Franzese,
2009; Kalpokiené and Kalpokas, 2012).
Sovereignty in the space domain
The development of rocket and satellite
technology raised the issue of state sovereignty in outer
space. Similar to the discussions in the other domains,
relevant debate initially focused on the extension of
state sovereignty on the basis that air sovereignty was
not limited in height. However, because the planet
rotates, this would have meant that sovereignty in outer
space would need to be shared among states in keeping
with the Earth’s rotation. It was then decided that this
approach to sovereignty would not work in outer space.
It was agreed that outer space was a global commons
and therefore could not be claimed by any state. This
status was formalized in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty,
which declares that sovereign states cannot claim outer
space or celestial bodies. However, the treaty made it
clear that states can be held responsible for their actions
in space (Franzese, 2009; Kalpokiené and Kalpokas,
2012; Stang, 2013; United Nations Office for Outer
Space Affairs, 1967).
5.2 Comparison with cyberspace
Is cyberspace a global commons?
As previously seen, these three domains are
considered to be global commons. As such, they fall
under a specific international law regime to regulate
their use and possible sovereignty claims.
Unfortunately, it is more difficult to determine whether
cyberspace should have the status of a global commons
or not.
There are various definitions of global commons.
The most widely used one comes from economics and
describes a global commons as a rivalrous and non-
excludable good. Rivalrous means that the consumption
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
of the good by one consumer reduces the availability of
the good to other consumers. Non-excludable means
that it is not possible or very difficult to prevent a
consumer from consuming the good. As seen previously,
global commons are often natural goods such as air and
sea. The common ground between all the definitions is
that global commons are natural goods in zones that
evade the control of individual states and remain
accessible to both states and private actors. Currently
recognized global commons are the high seas, outer
space and Antarctica (Kanuck, 2010; Stang, 2013).
In regard to cyberspace, some argue that it is a
global commons because it is rivalrous (a state-user
reduces the use of others) and non-excludable (it is
difficult to exclude state-users). Also, cyberspace
transcends national jurisdictions similar to other
domains such as the seas and outer space (Stahl, 2011).
Yet others claim that even though cyberspace exhibits
some characteristics of global commons, it cannot be
considered as such because it is man-made and
therefore not a natural resource. They add that most of
the physical infrastructures necessary for the
functioning of cyberspace are owned by private actors
who are subject to national laws, which constitutes
another point of difference compared to the other three
domains (Franzese, 2009; Kanuck, 2010; Stang, 2013).
The discussions on the status of cyberspace as a global
commons are still ongoing.
The debate over sovereignty in cyberspace seems
to follow a similar pattern as for the other domains. For
each domain, there was a period of debate between
supporters of sovereignty and supporters of open
access, which also included discussions about applicable
principles of the use of force and responsibility. At some
point, one practice prevailed over the others, and an
international law regime was established to formalize
the practice under International Law.
The case of cyberspace is still in its early stages,
and debates over sovereignty are still ongoing.
However, the 2013 UNGGE decision to apply sovereignty
principles in cyberspace most likely marked a turn in the
process. This decision may eventually lead to a more
binding international treaty that will formalize practices
in cyberspace. The Tallinn Manual provides good
indications of how International Law can be applied in
cyberspace, but its contested nature would be a
disadvantage if the Manual were to form the basis for a
treaty. Nevertheless, cyberspace remains a special case
compared to the other domains because of its still
undefined status of a global commons.
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
6 Conclusion
This research has shown that sovereignty in
cyberspace revolves around the applicability of
International Law in cyberspace. It demonstrates that
states have not used the terms sovereignty” or “cyber
sovereignty” frequently in their national cybersecurity
policies, but that France follows a different approach.
This research further shows that the academic debate
on sovereignty in relation to cyberspace has focused on
the conditions for applying International Law principles
in cyberspace. It also looks into the sovereignty claims
that some states have raised in order to control internet
contents. Finally, this Trend Analysis shows that similar
discussions regarding sovereignty have also occurred in
other domains and that cyberspace is currently
undergoing a similar process.
However, there is an alternative debate
developing in parallel to the academic debate. This
discussion mostly originates from the economic sector,
but also resonates in the defense sector: There are
studies financed by industrial associations in Germany
and French public institutions claiming that states
should reclaim cyber sovereignty or digital sovereignty.
They cite the loss of trust in the US Information
Technology (IT) industries following Edward Snowden’s
revelations as one reason among others for reclaiming
cyber or digital sovereignty, which they understand as
states having control over the trustworthiness, integrity,
availability, transmission, storage and processing of data
and over IT infrastructures. In short, they want digital
autonomy or a European digital autonomy in the form
of a guarantee that third parties will not be able to alter
data or infrastructures. They seek to develop domestic
IT industries, solutions and expertise to avoid
dependence on foreign private actors and/or other
states. However, economic actors are clear on the fact
that they do not seek self-sufficiency or autarky in the IT
sector, and they insist that the best solution would be
the development of trustworthy partnerships
(Barchnicki et al., 2015; BITKOM, 2015; Borchers, 2015;
Poupard, 2016; Techconsult and Lancom Systems,
2015). This alternative debate agrees with the French
approach to cyber sovereignty, discussed in Section 3.4.
The 2016 EU Data Protection Directive and the 2016
Chinese cybersecurity policy constitute good examples
of the emergence of this alternative debate and the fight
over the control of data. They both seek to retain data
within their respective territories to avoid losing control
over it (de Combles de Nayves and Guillot, 2016; Lewis,
2017; Maxey, 2017b, 2017a).
These claims are problematic for several reasons.
First, if sovereignty needs to be reclaimed, it means that
it has already been lost. However, cyberspace was
initially developed to be immune to state sovereignty,
and states were therefore not involved in its
development and technical governance (Franzese,
2009). States consequently did not have sovereignty in
cyberspace in the first place and therefore cannot
reclaim it. Second, the trustworthiness and control over
data and IT infrastructures do not fall under the
principles of state sovereignty, but of strategic
autonomy. The latter is important and relevant to
asserting state sovereignty but does not constitute
sovereignty as such. Third, economic actors demanding
more cyber or digital sovereignty are not selfless actors.
They hope that a greater focus on domestic IT solutions
will increase government spending on national
cybersecurity and may deliver political measures (e.g.
subsidies, protectionism, contracts) in their favor.
This alternative debate is indicative of a growing
misunderstanding of what sovereignty in general, and
sovereignty in cyberspace specifically, is. This
misunderstanding needs to be rectified. Economic and
defense actors wishing for greater control over IT should
rather talk about cyber or digital strategic autonomy
issues than about cyber or digital sovereignty, as this
would help reduce confusion surrounding the term
“cyber sovereignty”.
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
7 Annex 1
List of states’ cybersecurity and/or cyberdefense strategies used in the words search in section 3.
# Country Strategy title Year of
Number of
times the
is mentioned
1 Afghanistan
National Cyber
Security Strategy of
2014 No No -
2 Australia Cyber Security
Strategy 2009 Yes No 1
3 Australia Australia's Cyber
Security Strategy 2016 No No -
4 Austria National ICT Security
Strategy Austria 2012 No No -
5 Austria Austrian Cyber
Security Strategy 2013 No No -
6 Bangladesh
2014 No No -
7 Belgium
Cyber Security
Strategy. Securing
2012 No No -
8 Belgium Defence Cyber
Security Strategy 2014 No No -
9 Canada Canada’s Cyber
Security Strategy 2010 Yes Yes 2
10 Canada
Action Plan 2010-
2015 for Canada's
Cyber Security
2013 Yes No 1
11 Chile National
Cybersecurity Policy 2017 Yes No 1
12 China National Cyberspace
Security Strategy 2016 No No -
13 Colombia
Cybersecurity and
Cyberdefense Policy
2011 Yes No 2
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
# Country Strategy title Year of
Number of
times the
is mentioned
14 Croatia
The National Cyber
Security Strategy of
the Republic of
2015 No No -
15 Cyprus
Strategy of the
Republic of Cyprus
2012 No No -
16 Czech
National Cyber
Security Strategy of
the Czech Republic
for the period from
2015 to 2020
2015 No No -
17 Denmark
Danish Cyber and
Information Security
2015 No No -
18 Denmark
A stronger and more
secure digital
2016 No No -
19 Egypt National ICT
Strategy 2012-2017 2012 No No -
20 Estonia Cyber Security
Strategy 2014-2017 2014 No No -
21 Finland Security Strategy for
Society 2010 Yes No 4
22 Finland
Finland’s Cyber
Security Strategy
Background Dossier
2013 Yes No 2
23 Finland Finland's Cyber
security Strategy 2013 No No -
24 France
Information Systems
Defence and
Security - France’s
2011 Yes No 9
25 France
French National
Digital Security
2015 Yes No 5
26 Georgia
Cyber Security
Strategy of Georgia
2012 No No -
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
# Country Strategy title Year of
Number of
times the
is mentioned
27 Germany
Cyber Security
Strategy for
2011 Yes No 1
28 Ghana
Ghana National
Cyber Security Policy
and Strategy
2014 Yes No 1
29 Greece National Cyber
Security Strategy 2017 No No -
30 Hungary
National Cyber
Security Strategy of
2013 Yes No 2
31 Iceland
Icelandic National
Cyber Security
Strategy 20152026
2015 No No -
32 India National Cyber
Security Policy 2013 2013 No No -
33 Ireland
National Cyber
Security strategy
2015 No No -
34 Israel
Advancing National
2011 No No -
35 Italy
National Strategic
framework For
Cyberspace Security
2013 No No -
36 Jamaica National Cyber
Security Strategy 2015 No No -
37 Japan
Strategy - Toward a
Resilient and
Vigorous Cyberspace
2013 Yes No 1
38 Japan
Strategy on
2013 No No -
39 Japan Cybersecurity
strategy 2015 No No -
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
# Country Strategy title Year of
Number of
times the
is mentioned
40 Jordan
Assurance and Cyber
Security Strategy
2012 No No -
41 Kenya Cybersecurity
Strategy 2014 No No -
42 Latvia
Cyber Security
Strategy of Latvia
2014 No No -
43 Lithuania
Programme for the
development of
information security
(cyber-security) for
2011 No No -
44 Luxembourg
Strategy II
2015 No No -
45 Malawi National ICT Policy 2013 No No -
46 Malaysia National Cyber
Security 2006 No No -
47 Malta Malta Cyber Security
Strategy 2016 2016 No No -
48 Mauritius
National Cyber
Security Strategy
2014 No No -
49 Micronesia
The Federated
States of Micronesia
National ICT and
2012 No No -
50 Moldova
National Strategy for
information society
"Digital Moldova
2013 No No -
51 Montenegro
National Cyber
Security Strategy for
Montenegro 2013-
2013 No No -
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
# Country Strategy title Year of
Number of
times the
is mentioned
52 Morocco
National Strategy for
Information Society
and Digital Economy
(“Digital Morocco
2013 No No -
53 Netherlands The Defence Cyber
Strategy 2012 No No -
54 Netherlands National Cyber
Security Strategy 2 2013 No No -
55 New Zealand
New Zealand’s
Cyber Security
2011 No No -
56 New Zealand New Zealand's Cyber
Security Strategy 2015 No No -
57 Nigeria National
cybersecurity Policy 2014 Yes No 3
58 Norway Cyber Security
Strategy for Norway 2012 No No -
59 Philippines
Philippine National
Cyber Security Plan
2005 No No -
60 Poland
Program for
Protection of
Cyberspace for the
years 2011-2016
2013 No No -
61 Portugal National Cyber
Security Strategy 2015 Yes No 4
62 Qatar
Qatar National
Cyber Security
2014 No No -
63 Republic of
National Cyber
Security Masterplan 2011 No No -
64 Russia
Information Security
Doctrine of the
Russian Federation
2000 Yes No 2
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
# Country Strategy title Year of
Number of
times the
is mentioned
65 Russia
Basic Principles for
State Policy of the
Russian Federation
in the Field of
Information Security
2013 No No -
66 Rwanda Rwanda National ICT
Strategy and Plan 2011 No No -
67 Rwanda
Rwanda ICT
Strategic and Action
2015 No No -
Saint Vincent
and the
Information and
Technology Strategy
and Action Plan
2010 No No -
69 Samoa
Samoa National
Strategy 2016-2021
2016 No No -
70 Saudi Arabia
Information Security
Strategy in Saudi
2013 Yes No 1
71 Singapore
National Cyber
Security Masterplan
2013 No No -
72 Singapore
2016 No No -
73 Slovakia
National Strategy for
Information Security
in the Slovak
2008 No No -
74 Slovakia
Cyber Security
Concept of the
Slovak Republic for
2015 No No -
75 Slovenia Cyber Security
Strategy 2016 No No -
76 South Africa
Cybersecurity Policy
Framework for
South Africa
2015 No No -
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
# Country Strategy title Year of
Number of
times the
is mentioned
77 Spain
National Cyber
Security, a
Commitment for
2012 Yes No 1
78 Spain National Cyber
Security Strategy 2013 No No -
79 Switzerland
National strategy for
protection against
cyber risks
2012 No No -
80 Trinidad and
National Cyber
Security Strategy 2012 No No -
81 Turkey
National Cyber
Security Strategy
and 2013-2014
Action Plan
2013 No No -
82 Turkey
2016-2019 National
Cyber Security
2016 No No -
83 Uganda
Information Security
2011 No No -
84 Uganda
Information Security
2014 No No -
85 United Arab
Dubai Cyber Security
Strategy 2017 No No -
86 United
Cyber Security
Strategy of the
United Kingdom
2011 No No -
87 United
National Cyber
Security Strategy
2016 Yes No 1
States of
The National
Strategy to Secure
2003 No No -
States of
Cyberspace Policy
Review 2009 No No -
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
# Country Strategy title Year of
Number of
times the
is mentioned
States of
Strategy for
Cyberspace -
Prosperity, Security,
and Openness in a
Networked World
2011 No No -
States of
Department of
Defense Strategy for
Operating in
2011 No No -
States of
The DOD Cyber
Strategy 2015 No No -
93 Vanuatu National
Cybersecurity Policy 2013 No No -
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
8 Glossary
Attribution problem: Difficulty to determine with
certainty the perpetrator of a cyberattack.
Attackers are more difficult to identify because of
their ability to cover tracks, perform spoof
cyberattacks, or falsely flag other actors as
perpetrators (Hay Newman, 2016).
Data packet: Data is broken down into packets for
transmission along certain paths in cyberspace
(Techopedia, 2018a).
Malware: Malicious software that can take the form of a
virus, a worm or a Trojan horse (Collins and
McCombie, 2012, p. 81).
Routing: Establishment of routes for data packets in
cyberspace (Techopedia, 2018b).
9 Abbreviations
Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of
EU European Union
IT Information Technology
ITU International Telecommunication Union
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NSA National Security Agency (USA)
UN United Nations
UNGGE United Nations Governmental Group of
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Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
Trend Analysis: Cyber Sovereignty
Zürich, November 2018
Version 2
Risk and Resilience Team
Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zürich
Trend Analysis:
Data Sovereignty
Addendum to the Trend Analysis on Cyber Sovereignty: Data Sovereignty
Author: Marie Baezner
© 2018 Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zürich
Center for Security Studies
Haldeneggsteig 4
ETH Zurich
CH-8092 Zurich
Tel.: +41-44-632 40 25
Analysis prepared by: Center for Security Studies (CSS),
ETH Zurich
ETH-CSS project management: Tim Prior, Head of the
Risk and Resilience Research Group, Myriam Dunn
Cavelty, Deputy Head for Research and Teaching,
Andreas Wenger, Director of the CSS
Disclaimer: The opinions presented in this study
exclusively reflect the authors’ views.
Please cite as: Baezner, Marie (2018). Cyber
sovereignty and Data sovereignty, Version 2,
Cyberdefense Trend Analysis, Center for Security
Studies (CSS), ETH Zürich.
Addendum to the Trend Analysis on Cyber Sovereignty: Data Sovereignty
Table of Contents
1 Definition of data sovereignty 31
2 Empirical observations 31
2.1 Scan of national cybersecurity strategies 31
2.2 Results and analysis 31
3 Discussions on data sovereignty 32
3.1 Technical solutions 32
Analysis 32
3.2 Legal measures 32
Analysis 33
4 Conclusion 34
5 Glossary 35
6 Abbreviations 35
7 Bibliography 35
Addendum to the Trend Analysis on Cyber Sovereignty: Data Sovereignty
1 Definition of data
Data sovereignty, like cyber sovereignty, is a
vague concept that is often used as a catch-all term.
Therefore, for the purpose of this addendum, it is
necessary to define precisely what is meant by data
Data sovereignty ultimately relies on the concept
of sovereignty itself. As explained in the Trend Analysis
on cyber sovereignty, the idea of sovereignty can be
traced back to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. A
sovereign state has power and sovereignty over both
their physical territories and their domestic affairs. In
other words, states have the right to govern themselves
as they see fit, and other states must respect that status
and resist the urge to interfere (Franzese, 2009). In the
modern world, the principle of sovereignty is
paramount; it forms the bedrock on which International
Law and the international order are built.
Cyber sovereignty in particular has been defined
in the Trend Analysis on cyber sovereignty as follows:
the application of principles of state sovereignty to
cyberspace(Baezner and Robin, 2018).
The concern over data sovereignty became
increasingly concentrated as cloud computing and
internet-based platforms became the standard. Edward
Snowden’s 2013 revelations about the US internet mass
surveillance program only heightened international
fears. States were increasingly invested in protecting the
data that was created and transiting through their
territories. However, data sovereignty is not an
established legal concept and therefore understandings
can vary greatly (Irion, 2012). Peterson et al (2011)
defines data sovereignty as a way to limit the transfer
and storage of data to a specific territory. However, this
definition lacks the notion of control, and does not
include the intention to control data originating from a
specific state. De Filippi and McCarthy (2012) describe
data sovereignty simply as the possibility for users to
have control over their own data but this definition lacks
the element of state control over data.
For the purpose of this addendum, the definition
of data sovereignty is based on Polatin-Reuben and
Wright’s (2014) definition: data sovereignty is the states’
will to control information generated in or passing
through their territory and includes set of measures
employed to achieve that control. A critical component
of this definition is that states want to attach data to
their respective territory, with the intention to protect it
from foreign surveillance. It is important to note that
Polatin-Reuben and Wright (2014), as well as and
Maurer et al. (2015), consider data sovereignty as a
subset of cyber sovereignty.
1 The methodology is explained in details in the main part of the Trend
Analysis on Cyber Sovereignty in Section 3.
2 Empirical observations
This section analyzes how, where, and when the
term “data sovereignty” is used in national cybersecurity
strategies. It uses a similar methodology as the process
described in the Trend Analysis on cyber sovereignty.
2.1 Scan of national cybersecurity
In the Trend Analysis on cyber sovereignty,
analysis was undertaken by searching for the term
“cyber sovereignty” and the word “sovereignty” in
national cybersecurity strategies from around the world.
A total of 93 publicly available documents written in
English were examined.1 In this addendum, the research
analyzed the same documents, as well as new strategies
released by Canada and Switzerland in June and April
2018, respectively. As in the Trend Analysis, the research
was limited in that it searched for specific words and
phrasing, and could not filter for the concepts
2.2 Results and analysis
While some states mentioned cyber sovereignty
and sovereignty in their national cybersecurity
strategies, none included the term “data sovereignty.”
However, this result does not mean that states do not
use the term at other political levels or in practice.
National cybersecurity strategies reflect a political
debate at a particular moment in time. The term may be
too recent, too vague, or its aims too ambitious to be
included in a national cybersecurity strategy at the
moment. States may also use different terminology
discuss the same concept. It is also possible that some
states have developed classified cloud computing
strategies, which may include the term “data
sovereignty.” There are a number of other doctrinal
documents that may employ the term as well, but are
not made publicly available. As such, they could not be
examined in this addendum.
Addendum to the Trend Analysis on Cyber Sovereignty: Data Sovereignty
3 Discussions on data
The term “data sovereignty” may not be used in
national cybersecurity strategies but the term is
nevertheless growing in importance. Discussions about
data sovereignty increased after Edward Snowden’s
revelations on the American mass surveillance program
in June 2013. Consequently, states devised several
defensive propositions on how data sovereignty might
be achieved. This subsection broadly examines some of
these technical suggestions, including an analysis of
their potential efficiency. Following that, potential legal
solutions will be discussed.
3.1 Technical solutions
In their discussions following Snowden’s reveal,
states prepared several technical solutions to reinforce
their data sovereignty. Many of these solutions were
directed against US espionage. Germany, alongside
several states from Latin America, suggested building an
internet submarine cable to bypass the US and connect
their two continents directly. They believed that such
infrastructure would prevent surveillance and data
tampering from the US (Hill, 2014; Maurer et al., 2015;
Nugraha et al., 2015). A group of states, including
Switzerland and Germany, brought the idea of a
Schengen routing network.2 Data packets would then
only transit through internet infrastructure within the
defined network. With this solution, tampering or
surveillance from any entity outside that network is also
hindered (Dönni et al., 2015; Maurer et al., 2015;
Nugraha et al., 2015). The European Union (EU)3
suggested a European cloud service, with servers that
could store data located inside the EU. By implementing
their own cloud service, the EU would not have to rely
on foreign actors to store their data while reducing their
exposure to foreign surveillance (Amoore, 2018; Maurer
et al., 2015). Germany also suggested its citizens use
only German email services that housed their servers in
Germany (Hill, 2014; Maurer et al., 2015; Nugraha et al.,
All these ideas have the aim to protect data from
surveillance on the internet by rendering access to this
data more difficult.
Tying data to a specific geographical zone is a
popular solution to guard against foreign surveillance,
but it can create a false sense of security. Some of the
proposed solutions, like building new internet
submarine cables or a routing network, would require
2 Technical terms are explained in a glossary in Section 6.
extensive work. New internet infrastructures and
routing protocols would be required, but there would be
no guarantee that surveillance could be prevented.
Submarine cables can still be tapped and localized
routing can still be spied on (Maurer et al., 2015). Other
ideas, like a European cloud service or the use of
national email services, also do not offer effective
prevention against espionage. Storing data on a specific
territory can even put data more at risk than if it were
spread across the servers of a commercial cloud service.
Commercial cloud services tend to move data
constantly, looking for increased storage capacity at a
lower price point, and to increase the speed and
efficiency of the access and retrieval of data (Irion,
2012). Therefore, data stored on multiple servers may
be more difficult to intercept than data that always stays
in the same infrastructure. Also, perhaps
counterintuitively, there are fewer legal restrictions on
accessing data stored outside the US. US intelligence
agencies need less evidence to get access to a server
outside the US than for a server in the US (Hill, 2014).
Ultimately, the way data is stored is more important to
ensure its security and integrity than its storage location.
3.2 Legal measures
In response to Snowden’s revelations and states’
growing concerns over data management by cloud
computing services, numerous states developed
regulations to supervise the use of data stored or
collected by third parties. The EU developed the General
Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into
force in May 2018. This regulation aims to supervise the
use of users’ data by online third parties. Under the
GDPR, third parties require user consent to use their
data (Hill, 2014; Mittal et al., 2017). The GDPR also
sought to standardize data protection regulations within
the EU (Witzleb and Wagner, 2018).
In Brazil, regulatory bodies have considered
inscribing data sovereignty as a citizens’ right.
Snowden’s revelations prompted widespread debate
over data protection in the Brazilian parliament. Brazil’s
first internet regulation, the Marco Civil de Internet, was
signed in April 2014. The Marco Civil de Internet
contains rights for internet users and obligations for
internet providers, but it does not contain rules on data
storage. In July 2018, the Brazilian parliament signed a
bill suggesting the development of a regulation similar
to the GDPR (Hill, 2014; Mari, 2018; Nugraha et al.,
China is well known for its tight control over the
internet and its opposition to the current state of
international internet governance. Chinese authorities
passed a Cybersecurity Law at the end of 2016 that took
effect in June 2017. The Cybersecurity Law addresses
3 Abbreviations are listed in Section 7.
Addendum to the Trend Analysis on Cyber Sovereignty: Data Sovereignty
general cybersecurity issues and is accompanied by
more specific regulations called “standards”. One such
standard is the ‘Personal Information Security
Specification’, which took effect in May 2018. This
specification covers the collection, storage, use, sharing,
and disclosure of personal data. Chinese authorities
used the GDPR as an example to inform their
cybersecurity laws, but sought to allow for more
flexibility than in the GDPR (Polatin-Reuben and Wright,
2014; Sacks, 2018). The Cybersecurity Law states that
foreign companies operating in China are required to
give access to their data to the Chinese authorities and
store their consumers’ data on servers in China. Chinese
authorities justify these measures as ways to fight
terrorism and cyberespionage (Maxey, 2017).
Russia, like China, contests current international
governance of the internet. Russia has explored
primarily legal responses to secure its own data
sovereignty. Since July 2014, cloud computing services
have been legally obliged to store Russian citizens’ data
in Russia (Nugraha et al., 2015; Polatin-Reuben and
Wright, 2014).
Brazil, Germany and other states submitted a
joint resolution to the United Nations (UN) General
Assembly in November 2013. The resolution, considered
in part a response to US surveillance, focused on the
right to digital privacy and portrayed the issue as an
issue of human rights. The UN General Assembly
adopted the joint resolution (Hill, 2014; Polatin-Reuben
and Wright, 2014).
The purpose of regulating the use of data is to
limit foreign access and maintain states or consumers’
control over the data that was produced on their
territory. Given that many of the regulations are recent,
it may be too soon to evaluate their efficiency. Data
protection laws is one solution for states who felt
betrayed after Snowden’s revelations. New data
sovereignty laws have also resulted in an economic
boost for domestic Information Technology (IT)
businesses. By offering local cloud computing services,
businesses could attract their state’s support and even
benefit from subsidies earmarked for local IT solutions.
With these advantages, local companies may be better
positioned to compete with big US IT companies in
domestic markets. Yet Hill (2014) argues that legal
measures that force companies to store data in the
same state as where the data originates would not
protect it from foreign surveillance. There are
sometimes fewer legal protections against intelligence
agencies interfering and accessing data outside their
own countries. Also, it would be easier for the state
where data is located to have access to domestic data
and to surveil it.
Finally, data protection laws cannot fully guard
against every data sovereignty issue. Formalized laws
only partly prevent foreign surveillance and cannot
guarantee a state’s control over data produced in its
own territory. The problem is not where the data is
located, but rather how it is stored. Laws that instead
targeted the minimum security standards for data
storage and transfer would be more effective tools to
protect data and prevent foreign or domestic
Addendum to the Trend Analysis on Cyber Sovereignty: Data Sovereignty
4 Conclusion
This addendum has shown that data sovereignty
is still a broadly defined concept, and it will be difficult
to achieve full data sovereignty in practice. Data
sovereignty as it is currently conceptualized falls
somewhere between the ideas of cyber sovereignty and
digital strategic autonomy.4 On the one hand, the
concept of data sovereignty contains the territorial and
jurisdictional elements that are intrinsic to the
application of cyber sovereignty. Conversely, data
sovereignty closely mirrors the idea of strategic
autonomy, as it depends on the will to maintain control
over data and to build national IT infrastructures to
avoid foreign surveillance.
States have suggested technical and legal
solutions to better control the use of data generated on
their territory, but no proposed solution currently has
the capacity to achieve that aim. Ultimately, all the
proposals seem to miss the point that data security does
not depend on where data is stored but rather how it is
stored. Following that, states may be better off investing
in education. A British study showed that a majority of
the British population does not realize that its activities
on social media are used by businesses to generate
targeted advertisements and to make profits (Coldicutt,
2018; De Filippi and McCarthy, 2012). Raising awareness
among the population about the data it generates and
how it is used by companies and/or states could help to
improve data sovereignty. As people gain awareness of
their own data trail, they may become more cautious
about their online activities. However, there may be a
generational gap in how online privacy is perceived. The
younger generation seems to be less concerned by
online privacy issues than the previous generation (De
Filippi and McCarthy, 2012). Furthermore, education
campaigns would only have an effect on the
management of data at the individual level. For
managing data at societal levels, for example, other
solutions would need to be found.
States could also encourage or promote the use
of encryption tools. Encryption would not stop foreign
surveillance or data theft, but it would make more
difficult and costlier for third parties to access that data.
Also, encryption can be applied at different layers of the
internet, enabling states to decide if they want to
promote encryption at the user or hardware level
(Maurer et al., 2015). As populations become
increasingly familiar with encryption and its use
becomes the standard, the risk of citizen data being
access by third parties would be greatly reduced.
Data sovereignty is not only difficult to achieve,
but it is also an inherently dangerous concept. Many
states that have achieved a degree of data sovereignty
4 Digital strategic autonomy is a concept that was defined in the Trend
Analysis on cyber sovereignty as a national control over information
technology infrastructures and the data they produce.
are authoritarian regimes. Russia and China tightly
control internet content and dissident voices in their
cyberspheres. States could use data sovereignty as a
justification for repressive measures against their
Since Snowden’s revelations in June 2013, state
calls for greater data sovereignty seem to have
decreased, but the desire for more control still exists.
Numerous data protection regulations have been
drafted or implemented in the intervening years.
Additionally, the nascence of this field means it is still
too early to be able to observe the long-term effects of
these regulations.
Addendum to the Trend Analysis on Cyber Sovereignty: Data Sovereignty
5 Glossary
Data packet: Data is broken down into packets for
transmission along certain paths in cyberspace
(Techopedia, 2018a).
Routing: Establishment of routes for data packets in
cyberspace (Techopedia, 2018b).
6 Abbreviations
EU European Union
GDPR General Data Protection Regulation
IT Information Technology
UN United Nations
7 Bibliography
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(CyCon 2015): Tallinn, Estonia, 26 - 29 May
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Addendum to the Trend Analysis on Cyber Sovereignty: Data Sovereignty
Addendum to the Trend Analysis on Cyber Sovereignty: Data Sovereignty
The Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich is a center of competence for Swiss and
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consulting. The CSS promotes understanding of security policy challenges as a contribution
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... This is in part to address data protection concerns of individuals. Each of these concerns, and the ability of nations to address them touch on issues of national sovereignty and can be referred to as data sovereignty issues (Baezner & Robin, 2018;Irion, 2012). In addition, some governments are concerned about their ability to use their own national stores of data to develop local innovation-based industries, leading to laws or policies that restrict the outward flow of key categories of data (Chander & Le, 2015;Singh & Bhatia, 2020). ...
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With the growth of communication and the development of cyberspace, governments have ofered various interpretations of basic policy concepts such as sovereignty, borders, identity and nation. Due to the impact and influence of cyberspace on government policies, it is necessary to conduct new research on these issues. Meanwhile, the representation of political concepts and its role in strengthening and weakening the ruling discourse is one of the most important issues in critical discourse analysis. The present study tries to analyze the propositions of the four constructions of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran (theocratic, bureaucratic, democratic and military) about cyberspace at three levels of description, interpretation and explanation by using the method of Fairclough critical discourse analysis, in this way, specify how the government is represented and its role in strengthening or weakening the discourse. The hypothesis of the present study shows that the representation of sovereignty in the discourse of power structures in Iran is realistic and pessimistic and tries to create a new critical atmosphere by relying on national sovereignty and maintaining national security.
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Dieses Open Access Buch befasst sich mit praktischen Fragestellungen datenreicher internationaler Verbund-Forschung. Die datenreiche Medizin spielt in Diagnostik und Therapie eine immer größere Rolle – gerade angesichts immer leistungsfähigerer algorithmischer Mustererkennung. Mithilfe wachsender Datenbestände sind diese Algorithmen zunehmend in der Lage, Krankheitssymptome zu erkennen, diese mit anderen Daten in Beziehung zu setzen und so entweder bei der Suche nach Krankheitsursachen zu helfen oder Therapien zu optimieren. Vor dem Hintergrund dieser Entwicklungen vereint der Sammelband multidisziplinäre Perspektiven auf die datengetriebene medizinische Forschung mit besonderem Blick auf die Frage der Einwilligung in die Sekundärnutzung medizinischer Daten. Dabei werden zum einen ethische Überlegungen in den Bereichen Patientenautonomie und -wohlergehen, Privatheit und Datensicherheit, sowie Verantwortungsdiffusion aufgeworfen, als auch konkrete rechtliche Fragen hinsichtlich der DSGVO-Konformität erörtert. Sozialwissenschaftliche Studien zur Art und Form der Einwilligung sowie dem Patientenverhalten runden den Band ab.
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Die datenreiche Medizin spielt in Diagnostik und Therapie eine immer größere Rolle – gerade angesichts immer leistungsfähigerer algorithmischer Mustererkennung. Mithilfe wachsender Datenbestände sind diese Algorithmen zunehmend in der Lage, Krankheitssymptome zu erkennen, diese mit anderen Daten in Beziehung zu setzen und so entweder bei der Suche nach Krankheitsursachen zu helfen oder Therapien zu optimieren. Vor dem Hintergrund dieser Entwicklungen vereint der Sammelband multidisziplinäre Perspektiven auf die datengetriebene medizinische Forschung mit besonderem Blick auf die Frage der Einwilligung in die Sekundärnutzung medizinischer Daten. Dabei werden zum einen ethische Überlegungen in den Bereichen Patientenautonomie und -wohlergehen, Privatheit und Datensicherheit, sowie Verantwortungsdiffusion aufgeworfen, als auch konkrete rechtliche Fragen hinsichtlich der DSGVO-Konformität erörtert. Sozialwissenschaftliche Studien zur Art und Form der Einwilligung sowie dem Patientenverhalten runden den Band ab.
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Zusammenfassung In einer zunehmend datafizierten Gesellschaft, in der Datenverarbeitung alle Bereiche des öffentlichen und privaten Lebens durchdringt, ist Datenschutz von großer Bedeutung. Da sich Technologien und Praktiken der Datenverarbeitung beständig weiterentwickeln, kann Datenschutz nicht stillstehen. Zur Beschreibung des Wechselspiels von technologischem Fortschritt und Anpassungsprozessen des regulatorischen Rahmens spricht Mayer-Schönberger von aufeinanderfolgenden Generationen des Datenschutzes. Der vorliegende Beitrag untersucht, was eine solche Generation auszeichnen und aus welchen Gründen eine neue Generation gefordert werden könnte. Dafür arbeiten wir drei konzeptionelle Knotenpunkte im Datenschutzrecht heraus und argumentieren, dass – auch nach der kürzlichen Reform des europäischen Datenschutzes durch die DSGVO – Reflexion auf die markierten Grundsatzfragen für den Übergang zu einer neuen Generation erforderlich ist: der Gegenstandsbereich , der Schutzgegenstand und das Paradigma des Datenschutzes. Im Anschluss fokussieren wir die biomedizinische Forschung als einen Kontext, in dem sich weitere, bereichsspezifische Fragen bei der Weiterentwicklung des Datenschutzes stellen: die Formulierung von Ausnahmenormen für die Forschung und die Rolle der Einwilligung für Datenverarbeitung zu Forschungszwecken. Schließlich werden vor diesem Hintergrund Hypothesen formuliert, wie eine neue Generation des Datenschutzes ermöglicht werden könnte. Dabei wird argumentiert, dass nicht nur Gesetzgebung, sondern auch andere Ebenen des Rechts, insbesondere dessen konkrete operationale Ausgestaltung durch Rechtsformanten, für den Begriff einer Generation sowie für den Übergang zu einer neuen Generation entscheidend sind.
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New data-driven technologies yield benefits and potentials, but also confront different agents and stakeholders with challenges in retaining control over their data. Our goal in this study is to arrive at a clear picture of what is meant by data sovereignty in such problem settings. To this end, we review 341 publications and analyze the frequency of different notions such as data sovereignty, digital sovereignty, and cyber sovereignty. We go on to map agents they concern, in which context they appear, and which values they allude to. While our sample reveals a considerable degree of divergence and an occasional lack of clarity about intended meanings of data sovereignty, we propose a conceptual grid to systematize different dimensions and connotations. Each of them relates in some way to meaningful control, ownership, and other claims to data articulated by a variety of agents ranging from individuals to countries. Data sovereignty alludes to a nuanced mixture of normative concepts such as inclusive deliberation and recognition of the fundamental rights of data subjects.
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The definition of “personal information” or “personal data” is foundational to the application of data protection laws. One aspect of these definitions is that the information must be linked to an identifiable individual, which is incorporated in the requirement that the information must be “about” or “relating to” an individual. This article examines this requirement in light of recent judicial and legislative developments in Australia, Canada and the European Union. In particular, it contrasts the decisions rendered by the Federal Court of Australia in Privacy Commissioner v Telstra Corporation Ltd and by the European Court of Justice decisions in Scarlet Extended and Patrick Breyer v Bundesrepublik Deutschland as well as the new General Data Protection Regulation with Canadian law. This article also compares how the three jurisdictions deal with the vexed issue of IP addresses as personal information where the connection between the IP address and a particular individual often raises particular problems.
Conference Paper
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Data sovereignty, a catch-all term to describe different state behaviours towards data generated in or passing through national internet infrastructure, has become a topic of significant international debate in the wake of the Snowden revelations. A spectrum of approaches has emerged, with the United States and its allies viewing data 'localisation' as a threat to a free and open global internet and countries such as Russia, China and Brazil advocating for data sovereignty as a way of securing sensitive national data from foreign surveillance. This paper will examine BRICS-country approaches to data sovereignty, both by individual countries and as a group. Past participation by BRICS countries in internet gover-nance forums will be examined, and a requirements analysis will be undertaken of data sovereignty needs. The risks posed by different interpretations of data sovereignty will be reviewed, with an assessment of whether the creation of a virtual 'BRICS bloc' would necessarily amount to full-scale internet Balkanisa-tion.
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Cyberspace is a new global space that is yet not fully explored nor effectively regulated. The authors are not sketching a regulatory framework for cyberspace, but instead are inclined to glean valuable experience from the developments in the regulation of other global spaces, especially the sea. First, the peculiarities of cyberspace and cybercrime are briefly outlined. Then, the other global spaces are analysed drawing comparisons between exploration, appropriation and regulations of the sea and the air and cyberspace. The authors suggest that it is vital to learn lessons from the past in order to achieve an effective model of regulation of cyberspace. One of the main focus points of the paper is the position of a pirate and the ways of regulating piracy in different global spaces.
Conference Paper
Following reports of foreign government surveillance starting in June 2013, senior officials and public figures in Europe have promoted proposals to achieve “technological sovereignty”. This paper provides a comprehensive mapping and impact assessment of these proposals, ranging from technical ones, such as new undersea cables, encryption, and localized data storage, to non-technical ones, such as domestic industry support, international codes of conduct, and data protection laws. The analysis focused on the technical proposals reveals that most will not effectively protect against foreign surveillance. Ultimately, the security of data depends primarily not on where it is stored and sent but how it is stored and transmitted. In addition, some proposals could negatively affect the open and free Internet or lead to inefficient allocation of resources. Finally, proposals tend to focus on the transatlantic dimension, neglecting the broader challenge of foreign surveillance.
The architecture of cloud computing is becoming ever more closely intertwined with geopolitics – from the sharing of intelligence data, to border controls, immigration decisions, and drone strikes. Developing an analogy with the cloud chamber of early twentieth century particle physics, this paper explores the geography of the cloud in cloud computing. It addresses the geographical character of cloud computing across two distinct paradigms. The first, ‘Cloud I’ or a geography of cloud forms, is concerned with the identification and spatial location of data centres where the cloud is thought to materialize. Here the cloud is understood within a particular history of observation, one where the apparently abstract and obscure world can be brought into vision and rendered intelligible. In the second variant, ‘Cloud II’ or the geography of a cloud analytic, the cloud is a bundle of experimental algorithmic techniques acting upon the threshold of perception itself. Like the cloud chamber of the twentieth century, contemporary cloud computing is concerned with rendering perceptible and actionable that which would otherwise be beyond the threshold of human observation. The paper proposes three elements of correlative cloud reasoning, suggesting their significance for our geopolitical present: condensing traces; discovering patterns; and archiving the future.
In this Article, Professor Kanuck attempts to raise awareness about some of the issues facing sovereigns in the area of cyber conflict. He attempts to shed light on this area, first, by looking at how sovereigns are currently considering cyberspace and cyber conflict. He then identifies unresolved areas of international law and moves on to describe the strategic dynamic of state practice as it pertains to cyberspace. Kanuck ultimately concludes that the devastating effects of cyber conflict can be avoided only through comprehensive na.
In the wake of the Edward Snowden intelligence disclosures, governments around the world are now considering enacting so-called “data localization” laws, rules that limit the storage, movement, and/or processing of digital data to specific geographies, jurisdictions, and companies. This paper analyzes the complex – and often overlooked – motivations behind the data localization movement, explains how localization policies (in all their various permutations) fail to achieve their stated goals, and highlights some of the many harms localization can cause. Recommendations are provided for U.S. business leaders and policymakers seeking to counter this problematic trend.
Cloud computing can be defined as the provision of computing resources on-demand over the Internet. Although this might bring a number of advantages to end-users in terms of accessibility and elasticity of costs, problems arise concerning the collection of personal information in the Cloud and the legitimate exploitation thereof. To the extent that most of the content and software application are only accessible online, users have no longer control over the manner in which they can access their data and the extent to which third parties can exploit it.