RUB Research School

“Data security” as part of global data rulemaking: A Comparison of the European Union’s and the People’s Republic of China’s roles and strategies

The Research Project

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.

What I need the IRB for

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.

IRB funded activities

International Conference, Brussels, 3-5 May 2023

The European Union in International Affairs (EUIA) Conference, a major forum for academics and policymakers to discuss the role of the EU in addressing global challenges, took place from 3-5 May 2023. The eighth edition focused on the theme of “Europe’s Pathways to (Dis)Engagement with the World.” The Centre for EU-Asia Connectivity (CEAC) participated in a panel entitled “Connectivity and Security: The Case of EU-Asia Relations”. The panel highlighted the unique and interdisciplinary research and collaboration by Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) and the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) within the AREA Ruhr – Alliance for Research on East Asia Ruhr. It consisted of Ph.D. candidates from RUB and UDE and was moderated by Prof. Sebastian Bersick. Mrs. Paulo presented on “Connectivity and Security: The Case of EU-Asia Relations”. Talk on “Conceptualisation of Data Security: A Comparison of the European and Chinese Approach.” Read news.

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Fieldwork to Shanghai, China, July 2023

A short fielwork to Shanghai to discuss and identify potential interviwees for July 2024. Mireia travelled to the international competition YICGG2023 in Dali, Yunan, China. At that time, Mrs. Mireia Paulo, as the Head of Management at the Centre for EU-Asia Connectivity (CEAC) on behalf of the Faculty of East Asian Studies (EAS) at RUB, and Prof. Su Change, Dean of the School of International Relations and Public Affairs (SIRPA) at Fudan, met and renewed the EAS and SIRPA initial Memorandum of Understanding from 2018. This was an excellent opportunity to meet with well-known professors researching in her field area and discuss the planning to visit them in July 2024.

International Congress, Valencia, 7-8 March 2024.

The IV International TUCOMEX Congress on Foreign Trade, held in Valencia, Spain, on March 7th and 8th, 2024, brought together industry leaders, experts, and local authorities to delve into the ongoing technological revolution transforming international supply chains. Mrs. Paulo presented “Opportunities and Risks in Supply Chain Practice in China Under the Technological Revolution.”  Read news.

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Fieldwork to Switzerland, June 2024

As part of her PhD research, Mireia Paulo embarked on a field trip to Zurich and Geneva to explore data governance and security. Over a week, she engaged with experts from various disciplines and prestigious organizations, maximizing the value of each interaction. The trip's interdisciplinary nature was a key highlight, involving professionals from legal, academic, technological, and diplomatic fields, providing a comprehensive view essential for addressing complex global challenges. This experience significantly enriched her PhD research with both theoretical and practical insights, underscoring the importance of interdisciplinary and international cooperation in advancing knowledge. The trip also opened new avenues for future collaborations in Asia and contributed to the depth and relevance of her dissertation.