The European Strive for Digital Sovereignty: Have We Lost Our Belief in the Global Promises of the ‘Free and Open Internet’?
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Digital sovereignty is the buzzword of the hour in European digital policy debates. But what if it was something more fundamental than just a new policy principle? This short essay analyses shifts in the belief system that underlies our idea of the global Internet in order to better understand the European digital sovereignty debate within its historical and political context. For this purpose, it identifies three different types of dependency that shape today’s global digital order and explains how the perceptions of these dependencies motivate the EU’s claims for more digital self-determination. What come apparent is that the liberal imaginary of an ‘open and free Internet’ could not hold up to reality and that we are in urgent need of alternative visions for a globally interconnected world. The European digital sovereignty debate can be interpreted as the first stage in the search for such an alternative. Whether it will be able to fill the gap, remains questionable.