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The Conflicting State Of Data Privacy In EU

Jeremy Woolfe | October 31, 2006

Compliance with data-privacy rules is vexing enough for companies in the United States, with a myriad of rules and jurisdictions, imprecise definitions, and nightmarish bad publicity when things go awry. The novice might guess that compliance in the European Union is even more difficult, with Europe’s added layers of bureaucracy and different cultural norms.

Unfortunately, the novice would be right.

Disputes over compliance with data-privacy laws in the EU focus on two main issues these days, both concerning how Europe cooperates with the United States and its anti-terrorism maneuvers. First is the controversy over the transfer of customers’ data by SWIFT, the Belgium-based cooperative that processes financial transactions, to U.S. authorities; meanwhile, European and American officials continue to spar over the transfer of information on passengers flying from Europe to America. Other conflicts between U.S. and EU codes abound as well,...

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