Contingencies of the “Brussels Effect” in the Digital Domain

The EU has been hailed as a global data regulator. European policymakers have embraced this “Brussels Effect” as the EU embarks on an ambitious new regulatory agenda to regulate the digital economy within Europe and beyond. But the extent to which EU law has shaped the digital domain globally has been overstated and cannot be taken for granted. After fighting vigorously against its adoption, companies now often claim to embrace the EU’s General Data Protection (GDPR) and to adhere to it globally. However, in practice, the GDPR’s enforcement record is mixed at best and companies’ assurances do not always hold up to scrutiny. The EU’s new regulatory proposals for a Data Governance Act (DGA), Digital Services Act (DSA), Digital Markets Act (DMA), Artificial Intelligence Act (AIA), and Data Act (DA) are unlikely to generate a wholesale Brussels Effect. Instead, companies will pick and choose if, when, and how to implement European data law globally.