Where privacy meets politics: EU–Kenya cooperation in data protection

Erforth, Benedikt / Charles Martin-Shields
External Publications (2022)

in: Daniels, Chux / Benedikt Erforth / Chloe Teevan (eds.), Africa–Europe cooperation and digital transformation, London: Routledge, 142-155

ISBN: 978-1-00-327432-2
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003274322-10
Open access

The global competition for digital leadership is in full swing. Between U.S. surveillance capitalism and Chinese state-led digital surveillance, the EU seeks to promote its interests through what it calls a “human centric” model, which it believes will achieve a “safe and open global Internet”. Among the list of proposed tools to realise this agenda, the EU’s regulatory power stands out. Home to the world’s most advanced privacy and data protection regime, the EU stresses the importance of legislative alignment in partner countries as a means to realise a human-centric digital future. However, the EU’s desire to use regulatory externalisation to achieve its concept of human-centric digitalisation is weighted with the assumption that African partners’ social and political notions of privacy align with the EU’s. We use the case of Kenya to understand why there could be limits to how the EU can externalise its regulatory standards and procedures in practice. The externalisation of regulatory frameworks in the digital arena creates new opportunities for commercial cooperation. However, these prospects have to be balanced with the political and social aspects of securitisation and privacy in order to achieve the wider governance and human rights goals of EU cooperation.

About the authors

Martin-Shields, Charles

Political Science


Erforth, Benedikt

Political Science


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