IGF 2021 NRIs Collaborative Session: Digital sovereignty and digital self-determination

Friday, 10th December, 2021 (08:30 UTC) - Friday, 10th December, 2021 (09:30 UTC)
Hall A3
About this Session
NRI collaborative session

The concept of ‘digital sovereignty’ has become more prevalent over the last few years, although its meaning remains diffuse. Between Chinese techno-authoritarianism and the U.S. model of surveillance capitalism, Europe is heading towards a third way. Digital sovereignty can be defined as the ability to ensure citizens’ control over their digital lives, in particular through the control of their personal data. It also refers to the capacity to reinforce the digital “capacities” of a country, in terms of its networks, cyber-security capabilities, and control of advanced technologies like A.I. Digital sovereignty is an integral concept that must be prioritised in order to ensure responsible digital development.

From digital sovereignty comes digital self-determination, a multidisciplinary concept derived from the legal concept of self-determination and applied to the digital sphere, to address the unique challenges to individual and collective agency and autonomy arising with increasing digitalization of many aspects of society and daily life. Digital self-determination is growing in significance, as efforts to connect as many as possible grow, leading to many complex questions for policy-makers in the digital governance space. 

Last year the European Commission presented its digital strategy in which the term digital sovereignty was introduced. The need to become autonomous in the digital field is present. What are the consequences of this ambition for other parts of the world? And does it pose risks for the global internet? Could it lead to a splinternet? How would a splinternet affect global trade on a macro level, and how would it affect individuals’ internet experiences on a micro level? We need to discuss globally in what ways we can balance national and regional interests, whilst preserving a global internet. In this round table discussion, speakers from various backgrounds (various NRIs) will consider these questions and the day-to-day risks of pursuing digital autonomy on a national and/or regional level.



Hybrid Format of the Session: 

60-minutes interactive roundtable discussion with introductory remarks and open floor for questions and answers.

Expected Outcomes: 

Understanding specific challenges and examples of good practices on local levels.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The moderator will follow the agreed set of policy and will allow for introductory, case study remarks by the NRIs speakers. This will be followed by engaging other present participants into developing an interactive discussion.

Online participation:

A dedicated online moderator will be placed next to the onsite moderator. All participants will be using the online speaking queue to be treated equally in their requests for interventions. All input presentations will be made available at the IGF website and links will be shared via the online tool.


  1. Youth LACIGF, Eileen Cejas
  2. Argentina IGF, Eileen Cejas
  3. Brazil IGF, Vinicius Santos and Everton Rodrigues
  4. Côte d'Ivoire IGF, Salyou Funny
  5. Gambia IGF, Poncelet Ileleji
  6. South Sudan IGF, Kennedy Bullen
  7. IGF-USA, Dustin Loup
  8. The Netherlands IGF, Stephanie Teeuwen
  9. German IGF, Peter Koch


Connection to SDGs:

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)
Building an open, transparent and secure digital ecosystem, where data and services can be made available, collated and shared in an environment of trust.
There needs to be an implementation of a strong cybersecurity strategy, with the participation of all stakeholders.
Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)
Communities need to have strong data protection policies. National IXPs can support preserving cultural heritage.
2. Summary of Issues Discussed


3. Key Takeaways