U.S. and EU Privacy Policy: Comparison of Regulatory Approaches

Lauren B. Movius, Nathalie Krup


While the Internet can be viewed as a global network of networks, many elements of Internet law remain delineated by sovereign nations, creating the potential for regulatory conflict and spillover. In particular, national governments have different views on the regulation of private information, and to whom it should be available. Concerns arise about how personal data and identifiers should be handled on the Internet. The US and EU are each other’s largest trading partners yet follow vastly different approaches in their attempt to regulate personal information and the digital economy. This article explores the cross-border variation in privacy policy in the US and EU and discusses how differences in countries’ values, social norms, and interests account for the variance in regulation. Distinct regulatory approaches and priorities between the US and EU profoundly affect numerous industries in both regions. The article analyzes the example of the passenger name records in the travel industry as a case study in these privacy policy contrasts.

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