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Sovereign Internet Networks and Net Neutrality

Numerous countries are making efforts to bring internet infrastructure to their own soil. Both Russia and Iran, for example, are moving data servers within their borders, allowing them access to data and metadata, while China, Vietnam, Nigeria, and Pakistan have already instituted data-localisation requirements. The government in India – home to the world’s second-largest population (after China) of internet users – has proposed similar rules on privacy arguments.[1]

The EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) deals with data-localisation issues, requiring that the state dealing with the data has adequate data-protection provisions. Under its provisions, personal data can be transferred to third countries on the condition that the level of protection the GDPR guarantees is not undermined. (See here for more on GDPR.)

The USA’s abandonment of net neutrality was big news in 2018. However, it was only a legislative example of a growing and insidious worldwide trend in which, for example, mobile and connection packages give free or reduced-price access to certain social media or outlets, violating net neutrality.


[1] Freedom House, Freedom on the Net 2018, available at