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Digital Debates: Seeking an Open, Free, and Secure Internet

Cyber threats are quickly overtaking the more conventional threats to a nation’s sovereignty and ultimately, they impact global security. To counter cyber threats and fend off cyber attacks in the post-Snowden era, European governments have bolstered defensive and offensive cyber capabilities.

But, in an open society, this strategy can pose a danger to fundamental rights that are dear to the EU—including freedom of expression and the right to privacy. In an EU-funded report released November 24, the authors pose the question: “Technological Sovereignty: Missing the Point?”

The study is based on a systematic scrutiny of existing technological sovereignty proposals in more than a dozen European countries, which range from technical proposals, such as new undersea cables, encryption, and localized storage, to non-technical options, including local industry support, international codes of conduct, and data protection laws.

The authors find that some of the more technical proposals fall short of expectations and express concern regarding potential negative impacts. They present this report as a systematic mapping and impact assessment of existing proposals and their longer-term impact on the architecture of the internet. “Europe,” they say, “has a responsibility to lead by example in ensuring an open, free, and secure Internet.”

This joint project was undertaken by the New American Foundation—Open Technology Institute in Washington, DC, and the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, Germany, and is supported by a Transatlantic Research and Debates grant from the European Union.



“Technological Sovereignty: Missing the Point?”

Transatlantic Dialogues on Security and Freedom in the Digital Age