Falling Into the Gap: The European Union's Data Protection Act and its Impact on U.S. Law and Commerce


Marie Clear


VOL. XVIII • Summer 2000 • NO. 4 (table of contents)

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The European Union ("E.U.") has been economically consolidating for some time, but the US appeared to feel this new composite player was relatively benign. In the past few years, though, the E.U. Has started asserting itself and setting rules in the game of international commercial gamesmanship. Until recently, the rules were limited to specific products and practices. This year, however, the E.U. changed the rules about how it would do business and, more significantly, how it would not.

The E.U.'s Data Protection Directive came into force early in 2000 and presented the US with a huge dilemma: If the US would not alter its law to provide a specific level of privacy protection for E.U. customers, then the US, quite simply, could not do business with those E.U. Customers They presented the US with an economic dilemma it simply cannot ignore any longer - one that may force the US to close the privacy gap between its status quo policy of commercial data freedom and the E.U.'s pro-consumer privacy protections. This comment explores the history, the problems, and the possible solutions the US might employ to avoid being disqualified from playing in the European arena.

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