Even in many open democratic societies, there is talk of “data sovereignty” and moves to clamp down on U.S. companies and the sharing of data. In Europe, regulators and courts have thrown into doubt the free flow of data between the European Union and the United States. Many other countries are actively working on plans to impose “data localization,” requiring citizens’ data to be stored domestically and placing significant limits on the flow of data across borders.
This desire for greater sovereignty is natural and understandable. Policymakers are grappling with legitimate concerns about the rules that govern content and the use of data at scale. They are also debating the proper size and power of global tech companies. Hovering above these issues is a fundamental question: What do we want the Internet to be?
This is where the Biden administration comes in. An opportunity exists for U.S. leadership to create