Sovereignty and Its Outsiders

Data Sovereignty, Racism, and Immigration Control




digital sovereignty, data colonialism, migration, racism, smart borders


The concept of sovereignty invokes a nation’s authority, autonomy, and power to act. Recent societal developments invite new questions about that concept. For example, on whose behalf is sovereignty declared, particularly when it comes to “data sovereignty”? How are the benefits and costs of data sovereignty distributed in a society? Data sovereignty signals that the data produced within a certain territory should be bound by the laws and rules of that territory. However, this article argues that people on the move (migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers) are excluded from claims to data sovereignty and treated as objects of datafied persecution. That is, they are outsiders to sovereign spaces, both geographic and datafied. To investigate this situation, this article explores the historical echoes of the term “sovereignty,” especially given that the concept was particularly invoked in colonial times as a nation-building tool, applied when colonies claimed their independence while at the same time establishing internal social hierarchies. This analysis suggests that race continues to represent a key element in the hi-tech exercise of sovereignty at the border, replicating colonial and extractivist injustices against groups that are increasingly vulnerable in contemporary societies.


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How to Cite

Mejias, U. (2023). Sovereignty and Its Outsiders : Data Sovereignty, Racism, and Immigration Control. Weizenbaum Journal of the Digital Society, 3(2).



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