Last year, Sujit Choudhry – the Director for the Center for Constitutional Transitions – wrote an article on the implications Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will have on American corporations.
The law applies to all European Union (EU) citizens and deals with data collected on individuals. Simply put, GDPR intends to give European citizens control over their personal data. While the rule is put in place to protect European citizens, the law affects any business globally that collects data on individuals. The rule creates a complex problem for American companies as they look for solutions on how they can handle this type of data.
One of the key points to GDPR is to give individuals “the right to be forgotten.” This is in direct conflict with the desire of many companies to collect data and metrics on their users. The data is valuable to companies because it allows them to do things like present targeted advertisements. Some companies’ business model is to collect data to sell to other companies.
The EU and the US have different views about the collection of individuals’ data. The EU has two fundamental constitutional documents to ensure the right of protection for personal data. There are no such constitutional documents in the US. The only rule that might apply is the Fourth Amendment which states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” The Fourth Amendment became official in 1792 and was last revised in 1992. Sujit Choudhry points out that the Fourth Amendment never had the Internet in mind, and that it is aimed at protecting citizens’ data from the government, not from businesses.
Sujit Choudhry warns that American companies that collect data on individuals will need to monitor the impacts of GDPR carefully. One thing that is clear is that the EU intends to enforce the rule via significant fines.
In his role at the Center for Constitutional Transitions, Sujit Choudhry advised many countries in building a constitutional process. He is an internationally recognized authority on constitutional law.
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