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South Korean officials naive about data sovereignty

Data are considered a key component of artificial intelligence and information technology. With many superpowers and middle powers competing to become the vanguard of AI and IT services, data sovereignty is becoming increasingly significant worldwide.

Data sovereignty refers to the idea that, just as national sovereignty resides with the people, the data generated by a country and its individuals should also be under their control. This means that countries and individuals or consumers should have the authority to decide when, where, how, and for what purpose their data are used.

With the ubiquitousness of the internet and AI, there is a growing emphasis on ensuring that the ownership of data can be determined by the nation and its people. Thus, nations have recently focused more on restricting and evaluating access to data – based on types of data and foreign entities – and strengthening data sovereignty.

Data sovereignty without differentiating partners and foes

On June 30, 2021, Didi Chuxing, often referred to as “the Chinese Uber,” proceeded with its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, raising $4.4 billion despite strong opposition from Chinese authorities. The officials had urged a delay, fearing the IPO documents might contain sensitive personal and geographic information about China.

By July 2022, Chinese authorities imposed a fine of $1.19 billion on Didi Chuxing for violating cybersecurity laws, leading to the company’s voluntary delisting. In response to these concerns, China enacted the Three Data Laws to regulate internet data processing. The three are the

  • Cybersecurity Law,
  • Data Security Law and
  • Personal Information Protection Law.

These laws introduced rules such as the Security Assessment Measures for