Europe: Subject or Object in the Geopolitics of Data? Études de l'Ifri, July 2018
Data no longer should be understood as a sole commercial or regulatory issue, but rather as an actual stake of international politics. Mastering data is an issue involving different set of actors, with diverging motivations: it is a sovereignty and national security stake for states, a democratic stake for people (personal data), and a fundamental source of value creation for companies.
For Europe, in a context of transatlantic tensions, the impact of the digital economy’s center of gravity moving towards China is potentially significant. However, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), adopted in May 2018, seems more of a regulatory, even ethical, answer to a geopolitical challenge.
This report focuses on data localization as an essential, but not exclusive, component of a data policy. As such, it suggests a mapping of the main national data-related policies (United States, China, Russia, India, and Brazil), then it examines the European Union’s answers while highlighting the geopolitical and geo-economics stakes, which should legitimately be taken into consideration.