Our personal data is being mined for economic gain by private companies, which raises questions about who owns it and what they can do with it. Simultaneously, data is increasingly being viewed as a resource for states seeking an economic and strategic advantage over their rivals. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently asserted that it is time for Europe to wrestle control of European data from their US and Asian counterparts. German Minister, Peter Altmaier, is spearheading GAIA-X as a way to counterbalance what he views as strategic and economic advantages derived from Chinese and US companies owning the most considerable portion of cloud services in the world. As data enters the great power competition domain, how can we balance a state’s legitimate economic and security concerns without sacrificing the free flow of cross-border data channels? What impact will the new scramble for data have on existing trade and geo-economic conflicts? Should Europe’s ambitions go beyond data sovereignty towards AI sovereignty*?
* AI sovereignty = access to the most advanced AI-enabling technologies and data on a global level, applied according to European rules and values, without being dependent on foreign actors