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‘International challenges posed by digital business: between the State’s territorial reach and the power of private actors’, symposium by the IRDEIC-CEEC

October 11, 2019

Valade Lecture hall

This symposium takes a broad-based look at digital law. It has been organised as part of the EuroNum programme and will consider the most recent upheavals affecting the legal framework of digital activities carried out at an international level while noting the growth in decision-making parties and the relevant technical and legal instruments.



Céline Castets-Renard (Professor at Ottawa University, Associate Researcher at IRDEIC), Valère Ndior (Professor at the University of Western Brittany), Lukas-Rass Masson (Professor at Université Toulouse 1 Capitole IRDEIC)

The speakers have been asked to observe and analyse the recent tensions between the interests of States, supranational institutions and private parties. These interests can lead to minor friction or outright antagonism.
The regular invocation that States or public international organisations are impotent in the face of the actions or failings of private digital businesses seems to be nowadays stated in terms favouring the adoption of legal or technical measures by those impotent bodies to curb the activities of private business. In the last two years, several examples can confirm this view: Germany threatened sanctions against social networks in 2017 for violating national laws; Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called to answer questions before the US Congress; development of the single digital market in the European Union; review of European and international taxation of Big Tech; national measures on relocation of data; extra-territorial application of rules and validation of extra-territorial applications under national laws by national judges, etc. These occurrences today show that States have not given up their legal sovereignty or their power to rein in the behaviour of actors that think they are free of the rule of law. The examples also show that such legal control often has original features compared to traditional legal mechanisms. This leads us to reflect on the possible renewed meaning and form of the rule of law, at least insofar as it confirms the will to internationally regulate or control digital business by law.


The symposium intends to elicit a reflection on all the procedures that have, over recent years, allowed States and groups of States to reaffirm their control over the digital world which in turn has encouraged the return to a national rationale (using terms like ‘digital sovereignty’ or ‘sovereign cloud’) and even territorial separation (cyber-balkanisation and tribalism of digital networks).

The symposium will allow attendees to hear from those in academia, representatives of national, international and non-governmental agencies, as well was those working in private digital platforms and businesses

Contact :
Gaëlle Le Merer
Additional information :




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