The US has this crazy little constitutional right that befuddles people. Europeans wonder why the US is fascinated with guns. As an American who doesn’t own a gun, I too don’t understand the objectively strange fascination the some Americans have with guns, but gun ownership rights are written directly in the US Constitution since 1787. Before the internet. Before TV. Before women could vote. Before slavery was outlawed. In other words, back in a time when geographic groups of people formed militias to protect against foreign intruders.
What can the 2nd Amendment teach us about global commerce? When engaging in global business, what is normal from your perspective may not be from other’s perspectives. Something allowed or common practice in one country may be banned or unusual in another country. Digital product and solution companies are at the mercy of online “2nd Amendment” like rights granted around the world for a domestic audience, local culture or as electronic protection.
From an American perspective, the European privacy absolutism is restricting in many ways. Having to delete customer data, require cookie usage acceptance and explicit recurring billing acceptance are burdens that are viewed as preventing American businesses from being successful. This argument assumes that business rights take precedence over consumer rights. And in the US, this might be true, but the tide is turning. Below is a comparison of how the Right to Privacy is viewed differently between the US and EU:
Fundamentally, Privacy is a right afforded to any EU citizen, which has a profound impact on businesses that are operating in or selling to European markets. In fact, the right to privacy is outlined in the EU constitution in such an explicit and strong way as the US has the right to bear arms outlined in the US constitution.
The EU Right to Privacy might seem adorable to US business owners, but California signed into law the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) in 2018 largely based upon the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulations that implement the EU right to privacy. More states are following California’s lead and there’s even push for a federal privacy law to streamline the state’s efforts.
Any global business needs to be aware of the domestic laws because failure to comply creates an ever growing, hidden risk. Privacy is just one example of how things are handled differently depending on where you conduct business. There’s likely going to be more complex, relevant laws than fewer ones. All those people who go to law school are finally going to be in demand! Whether you like it or not.
What you can do to address the risk:
- Have a great legal and compliance team that’s business focused. As a business leader, you don’t need to know the laws yourself, but you need someone that monitors what’s happening globally, can understand that lawyerly foreign language, and advise you in common sense terms how to minimize risk.
- Outsource the research to third parties to keep you informed. It’s an expensive option, but some of the global consulting companies can handle this, with their usual flair for self-preservation in the recommendations provided.
- Work with partners that take on this burden for you. Companies like cleverbridge take on the legal responsibility for complying with local laws so that you don’t have to. The benefit is that if something is missed, it’s not your problem!
Reach out to me if you would like to discuss this topic.