Published by: New Media & Society
Author: Julia Rone, Research Associate, Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy
In a new article for the journal New Media & Society, The shape of the cloud: Contesting date centre construction in North Holland, Julia Rone explores why and how local councillors and citizen groups mobilized against data centres and demanded democratization of decision-making processes about digital infrastructure.
This analysis is used as a vantage point to problematize existing policy and academic narratives on digital sovereignty in Europe.
Julia shows, first, that most debates on digital sovereignty so far have overlooked the sub-national level, which is especially relevant for decision making on digital infrastructure.
Second, she insists that what matters is not only where digital sovereignty lies, that is, who has the power to decide over digital infrastructural projects: for example, corporations, states, regions, or municipalities.
What matters is also how power is exercised.
Emphasizing the popular democratic dimension of sovereignty, Julia argues for a comprehensive democratization of digital sovereignty policies. Democratization in this context is conceived as a multimodal multi-level process, including parliaments, civil society and citizens at the national, regional and local levels alike.
The shape of the cloud should be citizens’ to decide.