Cultural Differences, Social Media and Local Lawyers

Posted on August 22, 2013 in Planning & Advisors

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Forwarded to me by sister Entrepreneur blogger, Lena West, was this curious tidbit from MediaPost, about a case before a European court. It seems that “Internet service providers in the EU need not disclose the names of suspected file-sharers.” This is in stark contrast to the latitude given the Recording Industry Association of America to subpoena suspected file-sharers.

Why does that matter? Because culturally, in Europe, privacy rights are far stronger than they are in the U.S. So strong, in fact, that a ripple effect from this case could be that an IP address would be regarded as personal data (at least in Europe).

This is a healthy reminder of a couple of important things. First, that U.S. laws and perspectives on business, commerce and privacy are not necessarily shared worldwide. The U.S. may have taken the lead in many aspects of internet use and protocol, but attitudes are still somewhat territorial. The global availability of information does not equate to a globally unified perspective on how it should be used. Second, within the U.S. itself, there are differences in how issues of state laws on privacy (among other things) are handled. That’s why it’s so important to be sure that you consult an attorney who understands the laws of the state in which you are doing business. Also, your terms and conditions should name your state as the place where (and the law) where disputes will be handled. Otherwise, you risk having to consult attorneys in every state in which you have a customer to make sure you have not run afoul of their laws.

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