Digital data has acquired a geopolitical dimension with different political and legal approaches by the European Union (EU) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This creates interoperability problems when applying to technologies. The dependency on and importance of data leads to citizens, private sector, and states concern about privacy protection, store-collect-use of data, ownership, and national security. Data Governance (DG) helps capture an expanding body of law and other (softer) policy frameworks that regulate means to use, access to, and transfer of data between different actors. The geopolitical and the national sovereignty dimensions of data make it necessary to redefine the term “data security”, particularly with regard to the diverging roles of the EU and the PRC, and their (re)positioning over time.
Social sciences address DG in a fragmented manner, lacking in-depth investigation of the legal aspects. My dissertation deals with the research question whether the term “security”, as it is currently used, echoes all elements within the EU and the PRC’s DG by comparing both actors’ political and legal frameworks. By revising the term “data security” and how it is applied, findings aim to show what role the EU and the PRC do adopt in global data rulemaking, presenting possible commonalities and divergences between their strategies in domestic rule-creation and their positioning in the international context. The research engages in cross-disciplinary study and applies a mixed-methods approach in the research design including quantitative and quantitative paradigms.
The IRB enables me to conduct field research in a rapid and constantly evolving area, e.g., Internet, data, and security, in the EU and the PRC. This research project seeks to engage in cross-disciplinary conversations in particular with experts on technological, legal, political, and economic studies. To conduct fieldwork independently, I have to identify and interview different stakeholders from public administration, private sector, and academia, mainly from Europe and China. The IRB offers me the possibility to react to short-term invitations, as well as flexibility in participating and implementing international activities throughout the development of the research work.