Needless to say, the document most of us are reading now is the 209-page General Data Protection Regulation, just agreed upon by the institutions of the European Union. A few parts are quite a page-turner. (Parental consent for under-16s to access the Internet? Srsly?) But even with this scintillating read, we find ourselves reaching for something a bit less, well, dense.
This weekend we can do that without ever leaving the EU-US comparative mindset. Professors Ken Bamberger and Deirdre Mulligan of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology have just published a groundbreaking work called Privacy on the Ground: Driving Corporate Behavior in the United States and Europe (MIT Press). The book, which expands on the authors’ groundbreaking 2011 article, is based on empirical research that focuses not on what the law says in the EU and the U.S., but how privacy is actually practiced under five countries’ laws – the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and Spain. In findings that will be surprising and counterintuitive to some of our European colleagues, Ken and Deirdre find that the strongest privacy management practices are found in the United States and Germany. That’s right – stronger practices in the U.S. than in France, Spain and the U.K. I’m looking forward to the European reviews! And to digging into the details.
While we’re thinking about Europe, the always insightful Peter Swire released a new white paper for the Future of Privacy Forum this week that points out the significant changes in U.S. surveillance law since 2013 (the frozen point in time that the Schrems court considered in October, when it found that the EU-US Safe Harbor violated fundamental European human rights). Peter catalogues methodically the two dozen changes in U.S. surveillance law and practice since 2013, and makes a strong case that the Schrems case did a disservice in ignoring the past two years of change in the United States. Of course, more can and will be done, including serious prospects for the Judicial Redress Act to move in this Congress. But in the meantime, Peter’s work merits a serious read on both sides of the Atlantic.
Finally, as 2015 winds down, we can reflect on this year as the time when the “on demand economy” or “gig economy” became a shared global reality. Many policymakers are grappling with these changes, and the Center for Democracy and Technology just released Data in the On-Demand Economy, a white paper concisely summarizing its views. Yet another interesting and thought-provoking read from CDT.
Just a few ideas in case you find yourself with a little free time over the holidays and new year. Our team will be busily preparing more reading for you on the GDPR and other developments, but in the meantime we wish you a peaceful and productive 2016.
And you kids, get away from the Internet! Europe says to ask your parents!