Technological Sovereignty: Missing the Point?

New Study Finds that European “Technological Sovereignty” Proposals Fall Short of Expectations

WASHINGTON, DC – New America’s Open Technology Institute in partnership with the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, Germany, released a new report today assessing the potential impacts of “technological sovereignty” proposals that came out of Europe after reports about foreign government surveillance starting in June 2013. They range from technical proposals, 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 report finds that most technical proposals will not effectively protect against foreign surveillance. 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 and more promising ideas likes the expansion of encryption tools.

Tim Maurer, one of the authors, states, “Most of the technical proposals would not be effective. Some would actually undermine the open and free Internet. If the goal is to secure data, encryption is more promising but has not been the focus of the debate in Europe and deserves more scrutiny.” As the study notes, “data privacy and security depend primarily not on where data is physically stored or sent, but on how it is stored and transmitted.” The authors point to broader use and better encryption as a more effective way, “Encryption enhances both the protection of data in motion and at rest… It can be used to protect government, business, and individual data alike.”

To read the full report, please click here.

If you wish to contact the authors, please send an email to
Tim Maurer: maurer@newamerica.org
Isabel Skierka: iskierka@gppi.net