Digital Sovereignty: A Descriptive Analysis and a Critical Evaluation of Existing Models

Paper by Samuele Fratini et al: “Digital sovereignty is a popular yet still emerging concept. It is claimed by and related to various global actors, whose narratives are often competing and mutually inconsistent. Various scholars have proposed different descriptive approaches to make sense of the matter. We argue that existing works help advance our analytical understanding and that a critical assessment of existing forms of digital sovereignty is needed. Thus, the article offers an updated mapping of forms of digital sovereignty, while testing their effectiveness in response to radical changes and challenges. To do this, the article undertakes a systematic literature review, collecting 271 peer-reviewed articles from Google Scholar. They are used to identify descriptive features (how digital sovereignty is pursued) and value features (why digital sovereignty is pursued), which are then combined to produce four models: the rights-based model, market-oriented model, centralisation model, and state-based model. We evaluate their effectiveness within a framework of robust governance that accounts for the models’ ability to absorb the disruptions caused by technological advancements, geopolitical changes, and evolving societal norms. We find that none of the available models fully combines comprehensive regulations of digital technologies with a sufficient degree of responsiveness to fast-paced technological innovation and social and economic shifts. However, each offers valuable lessons to policymakers who wish to implement an effective and robust form of digital sovereignty…(More)”.

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