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This Article uncovers the fundamental values underlying the European Union’s expansive set of digital regulations, which in aggregate can be viewed as Europe’s “digital constitution.” This constitution engrains Europe’s human-centric, rights-preserving, democracy-enhancing, and redistributive vision for the digital economy into binding law. This vision stands in stark contrast to the United States, which has traditionally placed its faith in markets and tech companies’ self-regulation. As a result, American tech companies today are regulated primarily by Brussels and not by Washington. By highlighting the distinctiveness and the global reach of the European digital constitution, this Article challenges the common narrative that portrays the European Union as a powerless bystander in a digital world dominated by the United States and China. By offering both a normative defense and a nuanced criticism of Europe’s digital constitution, the Article contributes to ongoing scholarly debates on whether digital regulation compromises innovation and technological progress and whether governments or tech companies take precedence in governing digital societies. It also asks whether the United States should welcome EU regulation of U.S. tech companies as exerting a positive externality protecting the digital rights of American citizens or resent it as imposing a negative externality that compromises the U.S. government’s democratic right to regulate — or refrain from regulating—its own tech companies. This Article also examines whether Europe’s digital constitution is fit for the current era of tech wars and geopolitical conflict or if the pursuit of European “digital sovereignty” ought to be woven into its tenets — even if such an evolution would risk veering Europe towards digital protectionism and further enshrining techno-nationalism as a global norm.


European Law | Internet Law | Law | Science and Technology Law