Digital technology offers significant political, economic, and societal opportunities. At the same time, the notion of digital sovereignty has become a leitmotif in German discourse. This concept is understood as the state’s capacity to assume its responsibilities and safeguard society’s—and the individual’s—ability to shape the digital transformation in a self-determined way. The education sector is exemplary of the challenge faced by Germany, and indeed Europe. That is, harnessing the benefits of digital technology while navigating the concerns around sovereignty. The sector encompasses education as a core public good, a rapidly growing field of business, and growing pools of highly sensitive personal data.
Based on this, Prof. Dr. Christoph Meinel, Dr. Michael Galbas and Dr. David Hagebölling describe pathways to mitigating the tension between digitalization and sovereignty in their forthcoming report “Digital Sovereignty: Insights from the German Education Sector”. While there are already numerous contributions to the debate on this topic, a multi-perspective investigation with concrete recommendations for action is still a research desideratum. This is where the authors come in.
To operationalize the concept of digital sovereignty, the report draws on the systematization of related policy measures along three key dimensions: state, economy, and individual. As opposed to political discourses and conceptual debates, this report approaches digital sovereignty from the vantage point of technical implementation: the HPI Schul-Cloud (state sovereignty), the MERLOT data spaces (economic sovereignty), and the openHPI platform (individual sovereignty). In the final section, the report situates its findings within the larger European digital policy debate and develops several recommendations for strengthening digital sovereignty in ways that align with the EU’s openness and crucial international partnerships, especially with the United States.
The article will be published in summer 2023 as a Technical Report of the Hasso Plattner Institute for Digital Engineering. Previous reports can be found here.