top of page

"Comprehensive and important... This one is crucial: it is about whether tech controls democracy or democracy controls tech."

FINANCIAL TIMES, Best Books of 2023

The global battle among the three dominant digital powers—the United States, China, and the European Union—is intensifying. All three regimes are racing to regulate tech companies, with each advancing a competing vision for the digital economy while attempting to expand its sphere of influence in the digital world. In Digital Empires, her provocative follow-up to The Brussels Effect, Anu Bradford explores a rivalry that will shape the world in the decades to come.

Across the globe, people dependent on digital technologies have become increasingly alarmed that their rapid adoption and transformation have ushered in an exceedingly concentrated economy where a few powerful companies control vast economic wealth and political power, undermine data privacy, and widen the gap between economic winners and losers. In response, world leaders are variously embracing the idea of reining in the most dominant tech companies. Bradford examines three competing regulatory approaches—the American market-driven model, the Chinese state-driven model, and the European rights-driven regulatory model—and discusses how governments and tech companies navigate the inevitable conflicts that arise when these regulatory approaches collide in the international domain. Which digital empire will prevail in the contest for global influence remains an open question, yet their contrasting strategies are increasingly clear.

Digital societies are at an inflection point. In the midst of these unfolding regulatory battles, governments, tech companies, and digital citizens are making important choices that will shape the future ethos of the digital society. Digital Empires lays bare the choices we face as societies and individuals, explains the forces that shape those choices, and illuminates the immense stakes involved for everyone who uses digital technologies.

Digital Empires 3D ( copy.png





Digital Empires in the News


  • "Europe and the US won’t win the AI race by depriving themselves of talent", Financial Times, November 7, 2023

  • "After the Fall of the American Digital Empire", Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, September 21, 2023

  • "Europe’s Digital Constitution", Verfassungsblog, September 6, 2023

  • "What is at Stake if Antitrust Regulation Fails?”, Network Law Review, September 6, 2023

  • "Whose AI Revolution?", Project Syndicate, September 1, 2023

  • "Meta vs the EU:  who governs the digital economy?", UK in a Changing Europe, August 30, 2023

  • "Artificial Intelligence: Why Europe Has an Edge Over America and China", Foreign Affairs, June 27, 2023







In the News
Reviews, Quotes, and Endorsements

"Anu Bradford provides a holistic and balanced view of the three competing regulatory systems at the intersection of technology and society. Digital Empires is a must read for anyone seeking to understand what's at stake in developing a practical regulatory framework that serves the needs of people everywhere."


Vice Chair and President of Microsoft

Public Events
Digital Trade & Data Governance Hub

Washington DC (online)

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Carnegie Endowment

Washington DC (online)

Monday, August 21, 2023

European Forum Alpbach

Alpbach, Austria

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Wharton Business School

Philadelphia, PA

Thursday, September 7, 2023

National University of Singapore & AI Singapore


Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Milken Asia Summit


Thursday, September 14, 2023

Hong Kong University

Hong Kong

Monday, September 18, 2023

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Hong Kong

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Foreign Correspondents Club

Hong Kong

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Asia Society

Hong Kong

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Thursday, September 21, 2023

How the Light Gets In Festival

Hay, Wales (online)

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Anu Bradford-9679.jpg
About the Author

Anu Bradford is the Henry L. Moses Professor of Law and International Organization at Columbia Law School. She is also a director for the European Legal Studies Center and Chazen Senior Scholar at Columbia Business School. Her research and teaching focus on European Union law, international trade law, and comparative and international antitrust law. Before joining the Law School faculty in 2012, she was an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School. 

Bradford earned her S.J.D. degree in 2007 and LL.M. degree in 2002 from Harvard Law School, and also holds a law degree from the University of Helsinki. After completing her LL.M. studies as a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard Law School, Bradford practiced antitrust law and EU law at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in Brussels before returning to Harvard for her doctoral studies. She has also served as an adviser on economic policy in the Parliament of Finland and as an expert assistant to a member of the European Parliament. 

Bradford is the author of “The Brussels Effect: How the European Union Rules the World” (OUP 2020), which was named one of the Best Books of 2020 by Foreign Affairs. Her most recent book “Digital Empires: The Global Battle to Regulate Technology” was published by the OUP in September 2023.


Bradford grew up in Finland, and lives today in New York with her husband and three children. 

 Conversation with the Author
bottom of page