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Digital Sovereignty

Digital sovereignty is a concept that has been in existence since the 1990s when the internet was introduced. This means that countries or leaders of a country have not controlled what information their citizens feed on or access on the internet. However, there have been many debates about this and some countries have managed to filter what type of information their citizens can access through and internet. It is a challenging platform for the government to control since it is made up of so many players with different interests and therefore there is always a challenge in controlling cyberspace. This paper discusses cyberspace and its relation to governments and how governments are trying to be the sovereign controller of what their citizens have access to (Pinto, 2018).

Digital sovereignty goes hand in hand with digital governance because it is those who control cyberspace who can claim sovereignty over it. It is normal for many citizens currently to look up to their governments to provide protection against their privacy or to combat online misinformation. On the side of politics, digital sovereignty is understood as the power enjoyed by the governing body to rule without interference from any external sources or bodies. Jean Bodin came up with the theory of sovereignty in the 16th century and according to him, a ruler can make final decisions. However with time sovereignty became understood under democracy, territoriality, and the rule of law. Even though in the past the governments were sovereign, their importance came to be diminished by the introduction of the internet (Bria, 2015).

The two most important parts of cyber sovereignty which challenged the normal operational way of leadership were; multi-stakeholder internet governance and cyber exceptionalism. Cyber exceptionalism suggests that cyberspace is completely different from the analog way of living and ruling, therefore it should be treated differently from all other technological matters. This was a very popular concept during the rise of the commercial internet in the 1990s. However, it is still common whereby the thinking of cyber exceptionalists is that the growing importance of computer-aided network communication diminishes state sovereignty (Pohle, & Thiel, 2020).

The other participants in this by the name cyber libertarians argue that digitally mediated forms of politics will be good for society since they will induce decentralized governance and organization of societies. They believe that through cyberspace and the internet of things the many demands of the current society will be reduced. Therefore for this to be possible means that cyberspace has to be on its own and not controlled by the government. The resonation of cyber exceptionalists and cyber libertarians can be seen today in the cryptocurrency markets.

In most instances, there is a firm belief that digital communications are hostile and a risky factor to state sovereignty. Even though there is a desire for the internet to be free currently the governance of the internet and cyberspace has become an important part of humanity since there are challenges and threats which can only be dealt with if properly governed (Floridi, 2020).

In conclusion therefore digital sovereignty has many effects and concerns which need to be dealt with. The first is the political environment; others include economy, individual self-determination, and user autonomy among others.


Bria, F. (2015). Public policies for digital sovereignty. Ours to Hack and Own, 218-22.

Floridi, L. (2020). The fight for digital sovereignty: What it is, and why it matters, especially for the EU. Philosophy & Technology, 33(3), 369-378.

Pinto, R. Á. (2018). Digital sovereignty or digital colonialism?. Sur International Journal on Human Rights, 15(27), 15-27.

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