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Data Protection Imperialism and Digital Sovereignty: Transatlantic Perspect

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International Conference convened by Federico Fabbrini, Edoardo Celeste and John Quinn. Hosted by the Law Research Centre at DCU

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One of the most debated features of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the new pan-European legislation entered into force in May 2018, is its capacity to apply beyond the borders of the EU. The famous CJEU’s cases Google Spain and Schrems had already prefigured this new trend in EU data protection policy. Such an extraterritorial effect along with the introduction of harsher fines have led many American companies to comply with the new provisions of the GDPR not only in relation to their European business, but on a global scale. What from a European perspective could be seen as the mere consequence of enhancing the effectivity of data protection in the EU, on the other side of the Atlantic can be read as a phenomenon of data protection imperialism. However, the factual influence of EU data protection law across the Atlantic paradoxically emerges in conjunction with an opposite trend: states’ increasing quest for digital sovereignty. Exemplarily, with the adoption of the CLOUD Act in 2018, the US has resolutely affirmed its control over data processed by companies based in its own territory, independently from where those data are effectively stored. 

The conference adopts the notions of data protection imperialism and digital sovereignty as conceptual lenses to examine the state of data protection and privacy law in the EU and the US. The speakers will analyse issues relating to the protection of personal data in the commercial sector, in the context of law enforcement cooperation and national security. Specific questions will include the state of development of US national privacy laws, the health conditions of the Privacy Shield, the US federal policy to enhance digital sovereignty, the law regulating data retention and access to data by national security authorities, the issue of mass surveillance, and the regulation of artificial intelligence.

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Dublin

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