Dennis Broeders, together with co-authors Bernardus Jansen, Natalia Kadenko, Michel van Eeten, Kevin Borgolte and Tobias Fiebig, published an article in Government Information Quarterly on digital sovereignty, investigating to which extent government services and communication with citizens relies on infrastructure outside their own jurisdiction for India, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Taiwan, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.
In just a few years, the issue of “digital sovereignty” has emerged as an important security issue for governments across the globe, reflecting a growing unease about the security risks associated with government services that depend on foreign service providers for digital infrastructure and traffic routing. This work investigates to which extent government services and communication with citizens relies on infrastructure outside their own jurisdiction for six countries facing sensitive or sometimes even antagonistic relations with neighbors: India, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Taiwan, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. By combining various methods (traceroute measurements, passive DNS data and geolocation), we determine where and how domains are hosted, as well as the network paths taken by citizens' traffic to them. We uncover different strategies and degrees of autonomy, as well as difficult tradeoffs between different risks to autonomy, some of which might be larger than the risks associated with the dependency on foreign providers. This includes transnational providers being used by all countries, with geopolitical rivals even being tenants on the same network and traffic between citizens and governments regularly traversing international borders. Furthermore, we compared our empirical findings to stated governmental policies and find that they are not always consistent.