Enhancing Personal Data Protection through Digital Sovereignty


  • Sjoera Nas


  • Thomas Zerdick
  • Stephane Dumond
  • Marco-Alexander Breit
  • Jet De Ranitz

Organisation: EDPS

Room: Grand Hall Online

Timing: 17:15 - 18:30 on 27 January 2021

Digital sovereignty refers to Europe’s ability to make autonomous technological choices in the digital domain, while fostering digital innovation. The European Commission has identified digital policy as one of the key priorities of the 2019-
2024 term and has stated that Europe must achieve ‘technological sovereignty’ in critical areas. The October 2020 European Council stressed that to be digitally sovereign, the EU must, inter alia, reinforce its ability to define its own rules, and to develop and deploy strategic digital capacities and infrastructure. One primary objective therefore is to ensure that the processing of personal data happens in line with EU values and privacy legislation, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

One such example, “Gaia-X” strives to set up a high-performance infrastructure for Europe, aiming at an open, digital ecosystem, which could allow (personal) data sharing in a secure and compliant manner. While Gaia-X could be a necessary element of EU industrial policy, additional actions may be necessary to create an EU technology policy, which follows neither a model of state controlled development, nor a model of market libertarianism.

• How is the progress and the public and private sector support for EU sovereign Infrastructures such as Gaia-X?
• Which instruments do we need for Digital Sovereignty, e.g. in the domain of Software (EU Public License and other open source)?
• How can EU entities develop Insourcing strategies for innovation in the EU, e.g. by changing public procurement?
• How could Digital Sovereignty benefit privacy and protection of personal data?


Sjoera Nas

Privacy Company (NL)

Sjoera Nas is a leading privacy and internet expert. Since May 2018 she works as senior privacy advisor for Privacy Company in The Hague, the Netherlands. Before, Sjoera worked for 12 years as senior Inspector in the internet inspection team of the Dutch Data Protection Authority, where she authored or co authored many opinions of the Article 29 Working Party. Since May 2018 Sjoera has conducted many Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) on different Microsoft products and services for the Dutch Ministry of Justice. She currently also serves as external DPO for five organisations from the public and private sector.


Thomas Zerdick


Thomas Zerdick, LL.M. is Head of Unit ""Technology and Privacy"" in the office of the European Data Protection Supervisor, dealing with new technologies and their impact on privacy.
Thomas was Member of Cabinet for the EU Commission's First Vice-President Timmermans with responsibilities in particular for issues relating to the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights, including personal data protection. At the EU Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers, Thomas was a key member of the team that prepared and negotiated the European Commission's data protection reform proposals, i.e. the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Police Data Protection Directive between 2009 and 2016.

Stephane Dumond

French Gendarmerie (FR)

Senior police officer (Lt-colonel) in charge of the entire technical backend for the french Gendarmerie (desktops, SSO, IAM, logs, PKI, WAN optimisations, central proxys, DNS, LDAP…).

Marco-Alexander Breit

German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (DE)

Marco-Alexander Breit was born in Neunkirchen / Saarland in 1981.
From 2001 to 2008, he studied political science, sociology and medieval and modern history at Heidelberg University and international political economy at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.
From 2008 until 2014 he held various positions in the State Chancellery of Saarland, including head of the office of the Director of the State Chancellery and Minister for the Federation, Culture and Media (2010-2011), and from 2011 was head of the office of Minister-President Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
In April 2014 he was appointed personal assistant to the Head of the Federal Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Tasks, Peter Altmaier, in the Federal Chancellery in Berlin.
Breit headed the Division responsible for Principles of Digital Policy Coordination in the Economic Affairs Ministry from April 2018 until July 2019.
Since August 2019 he has headed the Artificial Intelligence Task Force in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Jet De Ranitz


De Ranitz (1970, The Hague) is the CEO of SURF since May 2020. Previously, she was Chairman of the Executive Board of Inholland University of Applied Science, the Amsterdam School of the Arts; Managing Director of Nederlands Dans Theater and the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Tilburg University. Her career started out in the commercial sector. She is an experienced CEO with a track record in change management with high level professionals in education, research and the arts. She holds a Master of Arts Degree from Leiden University.