Data Sovereignty

Duration: November 2020 until December 2021

The term data sovereignty has had an astounding trajectory in a short time. It may even become a guiding paradigm of the digital society, as it stands for a “European path” of digital transformation. However, there are still considerable ambiguities associated with the concept. It is also being discussed controversially in part.

Against this background, the work of the project group aimed at exploring conceptual and terminological variances and tracing the different contexts of use of “data sovereignty”. This also includes the delineation against related terms such as digital sovereignty, filter sovereignty, infrastructure sovereignty or platform sovereignty. On this basis, a clarifying understanding of data sovereignty was developed. The current EU legislation (Data Governance Act) and innovative options (e.g. data trust models) to facilitate something like an “implementation” of data sovereignty were also considered.

The results of the project group’s work encompass interdisciplinary contributions to the debate, including a joint book publication (Augsberg/Gehring 2022), as well as specialised scientific publications, plus numerous events in academic as well as policy advisory formats and a follow-up project with the Hessian Data Protection Commissioner. The discussions were also useful to further develop technical solutions.

Principal Investigators

Prof. Dr. Steffen Augsberg, Justus-Liebig Universität Gießen | spokesperson | more information»
Prof. Dr. Petra Gehring, Technische Universität Darmstadt | deputy | more information»

Prof. Dr. Gerd Doeben-Henisch, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences | more information»
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kerber, Philipps-Universität Marburg | more information»
Prof. Dr. Florian Möslein, LLM (London), Philipps-Universität Marburg | more information»
Prof. Dr. Elif Özmen, Justus-Liebig Universität Gießen | more information»
Prof. Dr. Anne Riechert, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences | mehr Information»
Prof. Dr. Jan C. Schmidt, Hochschule Darmstadt | more information»
Dr. Gerhard Schreiber, Technische Universität Darmstadt | more information»
Prof. Dr. Ralf Steinmetz, Technische Universität Darmstadt | more information»

ISBN: 9783593516431

Datensouveränität. Positionen zur Debatte

Steffen Augsberg & Petra Gehring (eds.) | 17 August 2022

A fierce debate has flared up around the demand to give citizens more leeway in the use of their data. Is informational self-determination only to be understood as the right to control one’s “own” data at any time? Or can it also be realised in a more active and participatory way: as the shaping of informational freedom, including the commercial use of data? This fundamental question is made even more controversial by the fact that data protection rules exist, but are often not enforceable on the internet.

In this book, experts from law, economics, political science, philosophy and theology discuss the positions of the current debate. Against the background of the widespread call for more “sovereignty” in German and European digital policy, related concepts such as “digital sovereignty” or “technological sovereignty” are also examined.

further information and ordering options on the publisher’s website»

Interdisciplinary Conference

The conference “Data Sovereignty: Problems and Opportunities” explored (mis)understandings of the term and discuss its viability with a broad audience and selected experts. Is the concept of data sovereignty a theoretically and practically appropriate response to the challenges of digitality? And how can it be linked to other governance strategies of the digital society?

more on this event»

Data Sovereignty: Problems and Opportunities

11 October 2021
9:30 – 17:00
digital format


Digital Leaders Roundtable

29 June 2022, Brussels, organised by the Hessian Digital Minister

On the topic of “Data Sovereignty for Tomorrow”, Minister for Europe Lucia Puttrich and Prof. Dr. Kristina Sinemus, Minister for Digital Strategy and Development, invited participants to the Digital Leaders Roundtable at the Representation of the State of Hesse in Brussels on 29 June 2022.

With their talks on the concept of data sovereignty, Prof. Dr. Steffen Augsberg and Prof. Dr. Petra Gehring gave impulses for the subsequent panel discussion. The focus was on data sovereignty as a guiding paradigm complementing and modernising data protection for a European way of generating, providing and using data.

more on this event»
link to video recording on Youtube»

Datensouveränität, Digitale Souveränität und die Zeitwende der Datenströme

Article | 26 May 2023

Petra Gehring on the concept of sovereignty in current debates regarding data policy. Article in the newsletter OVE Aktuell of the Austrian Electrotechnical Association.

link to article»

“Netzanarchie stärkt die Starken, die Rück­sichts­losen, die Lauten”

Interview | 27 January 2023

Petra Gehring on digital sovereignty and data sovereignty in com! professional (interview in German)

link to article»

all ZEVEDI topics»