This RightsCon session is organised by Pen America and the CyberBRICS project. Anja Kovacs is a panelist.

Digital sovereignty” means different things to different people. In its implementation, countries around the world are grappling with conflicting sets of realities and desires: individual privacy and national security, data localization and cross-border data flows, digital independence (from digital colonialism) and international technological trade, often driven by concurrent national priorities, international commitments, and ambitions for global expansion and influence. The existing lack of a precise definition and conceptual confusion may allow rights-abusive proposals in the name of sovereignty, while preventing the advancement of a more rights-respecting framework.

Civil society groups, digital rights advocates, academics and public policy decision-makers need space to explore and envision whether and how positive articulations of sovereignty” could be used to better defend people’s digital rights from corporate or governmental hegemony. Our aim in this session will be to conceptualize the term and reflect on its nuances and implementations, considering matters of infrastructure, norms and regulations and international political dynamics.

What does such a vision of digital sovereignty entail for issues such as data localization, digital privacy, and the development of new norms for digital technologies and standards? Can digital sovereignty be achieved without undermining the well-functioning of a global Internet? We expect to provide a diverse and rich body of knowledge from theoretical framework to case studies, allowing a departure from data colonialism and a recognition of Global South countries’ concerns surrounding the issue.

Speakers are:

James Tager, Research Director, PEN America

Anja Kovacs, Directress, Internet Democracy Project, India

Françoise Daucé, Directress of Centre d’études des mondes Russe, Caucasien et Centre Européen, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociale

The session is moderated by Luca Belli, Professor, FGV Rio de Janeiro Law School (DIREITO RIO)