Digital Fragmentations and Digital Sovereignty

Call for Papers: PDF

Conference Program (Draft): PDF

The project addresses the interplay between the notion of digital sovereignty and the increasing fragmentation of Cyberspace and Internet governance. Threats to national security from cybercriminals, terrorists and extremist groups, state cyberattacks, and the dominance of platform companies are rapidly growing in the open global Internet. In light of these developments, digital sovereignty has become a buzzword: With increasing frequency, regulations are being enacted to localize data, protect critical infrastructure and control online content while global Internet governance faces the challenge of “Cyber-Balkanization”. This project, closely related to the research project on “Infrastructures of Chinese Modernity”, explores digital fragmentation dynamics.

It is necessary for a better understanding of these complex trends to combine interdisciplinary expertise, including political science, regional science, law, computer science, sociology, and economics. Based on this interdisciplinary approach, we will theoretically and empirically investigate the following questions: How can we conceptualize and explain the acceleration of digital fragmentation and the emergence of new fracture lines from a multi-disciplinary perspective? Which factors related to different aspects of digital fragmentations have a reinforcing, and which a weakening effect? Does the idea of “digital sovereignty” fundamentally contradict the open and interoperable spirit of the Internet? Could global Cyberspace and transnational digital ecosystems split into separate spheres because of incompatible Internet governance models? What are the unintended side effects of “digital sovereignty” as a policy approach to counter dependency in critical digital infrastructures? 

Funding: funded by the Transdisciplinary Research Area “Individuals, Institutions and Societies” (TRA 4) of the University of Bonn

Duration: März 2021 – März 2022


Avatar Mayer

Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer

Avatar Huang

Dr. Ying Huang

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