Internet and Data Sovereignty

Aug 02 2018

One of the activities of an expert workshop run by the Engineroom project in March 2018, was to examine challenges for a set of umbrella topics. "Internet and Data Sovereignty" was one of those topics and four distinct areas of discussion were elicited:

  • General thoughts;
  • Challenges;
  • Opportunities;
  • Examples.

Internet and Data Sovereignty

Described as: Currently a lack of control over personal data. Decentralised data governance. New standards around data portability and interoperability.

General thoughts

  • Ambiguity around the term “sovereignty”, maybe we should talk about agency.
  • Not only focus on empowering individuals but also at a collective and community level.
  • Be aware that with control we also bear responsibility.
  • Risks and questions about consent and traceability need to be addressed.


  • How to make data understandable and attractive for humans.
  • Lack of data portability
  • Lack of plurality due to concentration of data.
  • As privacy becomes a commodity, there emerges a challenge on inequality.
  • Data boxes giving control back to users are difficult to execute securely and efficiently.
  • How do we build trust in leveraging data sharing for social good?


  • Data commons models empower citizens in controlling their own data.
  • Requirement for tools providing transparent and accessible interaction.
  • Data commons models allow for a more pluriform landscape.
  • Free and Open Source models should be promoted at a European level.


  • Indigenous communities in South Africa and Australia
  • the DECODE project
  • BBC Databox
  • MyData conference.

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1 comment on "Internet and Data Sovereignty "

  • Joop Ringelberg's picture

    I recently participated in the event "30 years of the Web: where do we go next?" in Brussels (22-3-19). I was so struck by the discrepancy between the lofty goal of a "new narrative for the internet" and the prominent role of the concept of "data" in all discussions, that I wrote a short post on it: In summary: "data" is the central concept in the dominant narrative ("Data is the new gold; the web is a mine"). As long as we discuss in terms of the frame of our self-chosen opponents, we've half lost the battle! Data is a means to an end and we should discuss the ends in a way that is free of current technological thinking. An alternative is available.

    answered 29 Mar 2019 09:50