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This article analyzes the differing perspectives that animate US and EU conceptions of privacy in the context of data protection. It begins by briefly reviewing the two continental approaches to data protection and then explains how the two approaches arise in a context of disparate cultural traditions with respect to the role of law in society. In light of those disparities, Underpinning contemporary data protection regulation is the normative value that both US and EU societies place on personal privacy. Both cultures attribute modern privacy to the famous Warren-Brandeis article in 1890, outlining a "right to be let alone." But decades passed before the impact of the article was felt. Both privacy and data protection are today part of the fundamental rights system of Europe, a component of the amalgamated constitution of the European Union. Both are part of the legislative and regulatory state at the national and federal level.


Originally published by the Journal of Internet Law in 2015.