Journal of Digital Technologies and Law

Advanced search

Sovereignty vs. Digital Sovereignty

EDN: nfwlyf

Full Text:


Objective: the aim of this paper is to analyze the relationship between sovereignty and digital sovereignty in order to determine whether they are linked or autonomous concepts and in which cases and to what extent there is or is not a connection between the two categories.

Methods: the methodology is based on the analysis of international, European and national practice and scientific discourse, taking into account sovereignty and digital sovereignty from a threefold perspective: contextual, conceptual and functional.

Results: 1) analysis of the correlation between sovereignty and digital sovereignty showed that both are related concepts; 2) important consequences that digital sovereignty has in the case of States and the European Union are defined: a) there is a substantial difference between sovereignty and digital sovereignty because the former is only applied to States, while the latter is also used in reference to the EU; b) digital sovereignty is not necessarily a consequence or an extension of sovereignty; c) while in the case of States, digital sovereignty is justified as a safeguard of traditional sovereignty, in case of European Union its function must necessarily be different, since the European Union lacks sovereignty.

Scientific novelty: the analysis of this relationship provides an objective scientific premise for a comprehensive understanding of the idea of digital sovereignty. From the perspective of the context where they operate, as well as their concept and functions, sovereignty and digital sovereignty seem to be autonomous and, in some cases, complementary categories.

Practical significance: the dual functionality of digital sovereignty as a concept attached to national sovereignty and as an autonomous concept helps to explain the use of this category in the case of states and in the case of an organization such as the European Union, as well as the differences in its scope and meaning in each scenario.

About the Author

M. Robles-Carrillo
University of Granada

Margarita Robles-Carrillo – PhD, Full Professor of International Law and European Law

Scopus Author ID:

Web of Science Researcher ID:

Google Scholar ID:

Plaza de la Universidad, 1, CP:18071, Granada

Competing Interests:

The author declares no conflict of interest


1. Brack, N., Coman, R., & Crespy, A. (2019). Unpacking old and new conflicts of sovereignty in the European polity. Journal of European Integration, 41(7), 817–832.

2. Budnitsky, S., & Jia, L. (2018). Branding Internet sovereignty: Digital media and the Chinese–Russian cyberalliance. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 21(5), 594–613.

3. Crespi, F., Caravellla, S., Menghini, M., & Salvatori, Ch. (2021). European Technological Sovereignty: An Emerging Framework for Policy Strategy. Intereconomics. Review of European Economic Policy, 56(6), 348–354.

4. Chander, A., & Sun, H. (2021). Sovereignty 2.0. Georgetown University Law Center. ssrn.3904949

5. Christakis, T. (2020). “European Digital Sovereignty”: Successfully Navigating Between the Brussels Effect and Europe’s Quest for Strategic Autonomy. Studies of Digital Governance. Data institute. Université Grenoble Alpes. brussels-effect-and-europes-quest-for-strategic-autonomy/

6. Elms, D. (2021). Digital Sovereignty: protectionism or autonomy. Hinrich foundation, Asian Trade Centre.

7. Fabiano, N. (2020). Digital Sovereignty Between “Accountability” and the Value of Personal Data. Advances in Science, Technology and Engineering Systems Journal, 5(3), 270–274.

8. Flonk, D., Jachtenfuchs, M., & Obendiek, A. (2020). Authority conflicts in internet governance: Liberals vs. sovereigntists? Global Constitutionalism, 9(2), 364–386.

9. Floridi, L. (2020). The Fight for Digital Sovereignty: What It Is, and Why It Matters, especially for the EU. Philosophy & Technology, 33, 369–378.

10. Franzese, P. W. (2009). Sovereignty in Cyberspace: Can it exist? The Air Force Law Review; Maxwell AFB, 64, 1–42.

11. Heller, K. J. (2021). In Defense of Pure Sovereignty in Cyberspace. International Law Studies, 97, 1432–1499.

12. Irion, K., Burri, M., Kolk, A., & Milan, S. (2021). Governing “European values” inside data flows: interdisciplinary perspectives. Internet Policy Review, 10(3).

13. Jiangyu, W., & Huaer, Che. (2022). China’s Approach to International Law: From Traditional Westphalianism to Aggressive Instrumentalism in the Xi Jinping Era. The Chinese Journal of Comparative Law, 10(1), 140–153.

14. Kaloudis, M. (2021). Digital sovereignty – European Union’s action plan needs a common understanding to succeed. History Compass, 8.

15. Mainwaring, S. (2020). Always in control? Sovereign states in cyberspace. European Journal of International Security, 5(2), 215–232.

16. Mueller, M. L. (2020). Against Sovereignty in Cyberspace. International Studies Review, 22(4), 779–801. https://

17. Pohle, J., & Thiel, T. (2020). Digital sovereignty. Internet Policy Review, 9(4).

18. Posch, R. (2015). Digital Sovereignty and IT-Security for a Prosperous Society. En Werthner, H. y Van Harmelen, F. Informatics in the Future. Proceedings of the 11th European Computer Science Summit (ECSS 2015). Vienna.

19. Roberts, H., Cowls, J., Casolari, F., Morley, J., Taddeo, M., & Floridi, L. (2021). Safeguarding European values with digital sovereignty: an analysis of statements and policies. Internet Policy Review, 10(3). https://doi. org/10.14763/2021.3.1575

20. Ruohonen, J. (2021). The Treachery of Images in the Digital Sovereignty Debate. Minds and Machines, 31, 439–456.

21. Zeng, J., Stevens, T., & Chen, Y. (2017). China’s solution to global cyber governance: Unpacking the domestic discourse of “Internet sovereignty”. Politics & Policy, 45(3), 432–464.


For citations:

Robles-Carrillo M. Sovereignty vs. Digital Sovereignty. Journal of Digital Technologies and Law. 2023;1(3):673-690. EDN: nfwlyf

Views: 220

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

ISSN 2949-2483 (Online)