|LISWiki will be closing, due to lack of participation, on July 1, 2019.|
Contrast between American and European Approaches
There is a fundamental difference between American and European approaches to the protection of information privacy. American policy is primarily one of limited regulation, emphasizing economics and the right to know; whereas European policy is one of limited access, emphasizing accuracy of information and protection of privacy.
Much of the personal information of Americans is a matter of public record, e.g., birth records, driving records, marriage records. Moreover, individual financial records, unless the consumer specifies otherwise, are freely exchanged among commercial entities. The personal and financial information of Europeans, on the other hand, is considered private, unless the individual gives consent for release.
Ultimately, in America, the desire for belongingness and privilege often outweighs the desire for privacy and autonomy; whereas in Europe, concern for privacy and autonomy often outweighs any potential for economic advantage.
Advantages of American Approach to Information Privacy
1. Limited regulation allows for a free flow of information which often proves beneficial to the economy.
2. Ease of access to the demographic data of American consumers allows for the production of specialized products, which has the potential to benefit both the producer and consumer of goods.
Disadvantages of American Approach to Information Privacy
1. Easy access to personal information has the potential to limit one’s privacy.
2. Easy access to personal information has the potential to be physically dangerous, e.g. stalkers, pedophiles, etc.
3. Easy access to personal information has the potential to be financially devastating, e.g. criminals mining financial records, social security numbers, etc.
4. No federal regulation ensuring the right of individuals to access and edit personal information records.
Advantages of European Approach to Information Privacy
1. Protects the privacy of the individual.
2. Accuracy of personal and professional records protected, due to right of individuals to access and edit personal information.
Disadvantages of European Approach to Information Privacy
1. High regulation could theoretically slow down economic progress due to the potential for bureaucratic red tape.
Campbell, John Edward and Matt Carlson. 2002. Panopticon.com: Online surveillance and the commodification of privacy. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 46 (4): 586-606.
Caudill, Eve M. 2000. Consumer online privacy: Legal and ethical issues. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing 19 (1): 7-19.
Cortada, James W. 2002. Making the information society: Experiences, consequences, and possibilities. New York: Prentice Hall.
Kuttner, Robert. 1998. The U.S. could use a dose of Europe’s privacy medicine. Business Week 3604 (November 16): 22.
Marx, Gary T. 2003. A tack in the shoe: Neutralizing and resisting the new surveillance. Journal of Social Issues 59 (2): 369-90.