My Privacy is Better Than Yours: US and European Perspectives on Privacy
Lisa Glover-Gardin, Senior Consulting Counsel, Quantum Corp, USA
Business is increasingly global. Relatively few transactions begin and end in a single country or single currency. Inseparable from the global flow of business is the flow of personal data (defined as “any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person called the data subject”) – including name, address, credit card, national identity number to other non-public identifier which most of us would prefer not disclosed in a global forum. It has been said that the “[t]he protection of personal information entails complex benefit/cost trade-offs for both society and individuals.” There are abundant reasonable and appropriate uses of personal information by business wherein the consumer and the business derives economic value. Access to personal data improves service delivery and product efficiency. The challenge today is to develop cross border privacy and security policies and legislation which both facilitates commerce by seamlessly exchanging information and limits unintended disclosure of personal information. The importance of balancing information access and use is, however, viewed differently from either side of the Atlantic due in large part to different cultural origins of privacy law. This article seeks to explore in a general sense the underpinnings of informational privacy as viewed separately from the United States and Europe and its impact on current privacy law. The details of privacy law and its various requirements across jurisdictional boundaries are too complex to cover in this article. For discussion purposes, I have in large part generalized EU and American espousal of privacy without focus on the unique process and administrative schemes unique to each state.
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