At A Glance – Data Sovereignty

Our digital data is part of our identities, so it should be under our control

Data sovereignty is the concept that our digital data and presence should be entirely under consumer control. In other words, it should be up to an individual who can access, store, and use their data, and for what purposes. However, whenever we use a free digital service, we leave a trail of data behind which is hoovered up by organisations. Because of this, data sovereignty is fundamentally compromised.

In light of the scramble for information and the adoption of new data storage solutions, issues surrounding data sovereignty have come to the fore. The spread of cloud computing has made it cheaper and easier to access and store data, but it comes with its downsides. Storing data in the cloud can mean that digital sovereignty is further compromised by differences in cross border laws, as there are currently no global, universal rules. Different countries and locations have their own privacy and data laws that can vary wildly. This means that data stored in one country could be used for purposes that the host country (where the consumer actually lives) would not allow. Carefully considering the transparency and trustworthiness of cloud providers is paramount to encouraging digital sovereignty.

Building up data sovereignty could be seen as restrictive when it comes to developing new products and services. Either way, organisations need to respect that digital data is part of consumer identities. Initiatives like GDPR have taken important steps towards realising a greater level of consumer control, but the continued expansion of digital sovereignty relies on better security technology and the willingness of organisations to be more transparent. In theory, a more democratic approach to digital data will be better for both citizens and the economy.

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