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European Union Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications

The 2002 European Union Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications (“the Privacy Directive”) and its predecessor, the 1995 Directive on the Protection of Individuals With Regard to the Processing of Personal Data (“the Personal Data Directive”), are legislative acts that work together to protect European citizens' and employees' e-commerce privacy. Since the first of the two directives became effective in 1998, they have affected U.S. companies attempting to do business with existing or potential customers and employees in the European Union (EU). Because of underlying philosophical differences between the United States and the EU concerning the scope and purpose of legislation and privacy interests, the EU directives' legal requirements do not mesh well with U.S. laws. A “Safe Harbor” for U.S. companies doing e-business in ...

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