YDS_Logo_Trans_64x64

Your Digital Self

7 Differences Between Europe vs United States Data Privacy Laws

In this digital world, everything we do online leaves digital footprints, due to which many users are concerned about the data privacy issue. The concern is valid; every country is taking a different approach to protecting data. 

Large countries and organizations such as Europe and the United States show commitment to digital privacy and they’re focused on data protection with current legislation and enforcement actions. In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between Europe vs United States data privacy laws and their approaches toward data protection. Let’s begin!

Table of Contents

In this digital world, everything we do online leaves digital footprints, due to which many users are concerned about the data privacy issue. The concern is valid; every country is taking a different approach to protecting data. 

Large countries and organizations such as Europe and the United States show commitment to digital privacy and they’re focused on data protection with current legislation and enforcement actions. In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between Europe vs United States data privacy laws and their approaches toward data protection. Let’s begin!

The European Union’s GDPR

The European Union implemented its privacy law as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which went into action on 25th May 2018. The law applies to all businesses in or out of the European Union that process the data of European citizens. 

GDPR is a legal framework that regulates data privacy for every member and gives them control over how their personal data is accessed and used.

The United States, under CCPA

CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) is the first significant data privacy law that emerged in the United States to give individuals greater power over their information. CCPA took effect on 1st January 2020. 

According to International Comparative Legal Guides, the United States has various state and federal laws to protect citizen data and privacy. Therefore, CCPA was enforced in the wake of GDPR to increase transparency and give users better control over how organizations collect and use their sensitive data. 

Europe-United States Privacy Shield Framework

The United States Department of Commerce and European Commission designed the Europe-United States privacy shield framework. The Europe United States privacy shield ensures that organizations maintain high data protection. This shield framework is an agreement about data protection & privacy practices between the United States and Europe. The entities that want to engage in this practice must be certified under Privacy Shield.

The Federal Trade Commission and the United States support enforcement and monitoring. But the organizations that don’t meet standards are excluded from doing business with the European Union. Also, if they violate court or administrative orders, they are fined for it. 

Furthermore, the United States President and European Commission announced an agreement on 25th March 2022 in a joint press conference known as Trans Atlantic Data Privacy Framework (Privacy Shield 2.0). This agreement was made to replace the original Europe-United States privacy shield framework and address concerns of the European Court of Justice in the Schrems II decision. Also, it is intended to provide more excellent protection of data.

7 key differences between Europe vs United States data privacy laws

The European Union’s GDPR, General Data Protection Regulation, and (CCPA) California’s Consumer Privacy act are the first data privacy laws in the United States and Europe. Both laws protect users’ data privacy rights, but they have major differences. Let’s take a look at data privacy laws on both sides to find out fundamental differences between Europe vs United States data privacy laws.

1. The entities subjected by the law

GDPR law applies to all businesses, including non-profit organizations, companies, or any entity that collects consumer data in Europe.

On the other hand, CCPA applies to any for-profit entities that target California residents and meet at least one of the following:

  • Earns over $25 million in annual gross revenues.
  • Buys, sells, collects, or shares the personal data of at least 50,000 consumers and householders for commercial purposes.
  • Earns 50% of their yearly revenue by selling this data.

2. The data types being protected

CCPA protects data that relates to, identifies, or links with a household, individual, or device. In addition, it does not protect the publicly available data and medical & personal information recorded by the federal and state. 

Conversely, GDPR protects all types of personal data that relate to individuals & used for commercial purposes. However, it does not include anonymous data, non-automated data, and data for personal or household purposes.

3. Cookies usage

Another key difference between Europe and United States privacy laws is cookie consent. Under both CCPA and GDPR, websites must disclose the cookies’ information, their type, why they’re used, and how to manage or delete them.

CCPA rules are not as strict as GDPR in terms of cookie usage. In GDPR, opt-in consent is mandatory to use cookies that collect or track personal data. Unlike GDPR, CCPA does not require websites to ask for permission to use cookies and store cookies, and it only makes opt-out essential for the cookies that sell personal data. 

4. Information disclosed to the users

Transparency is a typical requirement among Europe and United States privacy laws, and both privacy laws require businesses to inform the users when their data is disclosed, collected, and used for business purposes. However, there’re minor differences in the information needed to disclose to users.

According to CCPA requirements, organizations must inform users when their personal data is used or stored after 12 months. Also, if any third party sells data to another third party, they’re liable to inform the users.

Furthermore, GDPR requires that businesses inform users when their data is collected & used and how long their data will be retained. Besides, when entities share the users’ data with a third party, they will have to notify them no later than a month.

5. User’s rights to opt-out

 CCPA allows organizations to give opt-out choices to users, and they can object to their data collection. Moreover, businesses must add a DNSMPI (Do not sell my personal information) link on their website pages where individual data is collected. If users opt-out, companies are not allowed to collect data for a year.

In terms of user rights, GDPR requirements are similar to CCPA. Meanwhile, the European union’s privacy laws give users the freedom to opt-in and opt-out, and users have a chance to withdraw consent and object to the collection of their information.

6. Penalties applied for violation

CCPA charges penalties of $2,500 for unintentional violations and $7,500 for intentional violations. California state court imposes the CCPA fines.

GDPR charges fines depending on the nature of the violation- up to €10 M or 2% annual global turnover for lower-level violations and up to €20 M or 4% annual global turnover for high-risk, severe violations. Also, users have the right to sue in both data protection laws.

7. Legal grounds for data processing

The last difference between Europe and United States privacy laws is their legal basis for data processing. GDPR requires websites to have a lawful basis for processing personal data in the Europe. Here are six legal bases for processing data:

  • Consent
  • Legal obligation
  • Contractual obligation
  • Organization interest
  • Public interest
  • Vital interest

On the other hand, CCPA does not require such a specific legal basis. Organizations under CCPA can process data for any purpose, however, not in a deceptive manner.

Final Thoughts

There you have it- seven key differences between Europe and United States privacy laws. Both data protection laws have global reach and are renowned pieces of legislation. Also, they’re focused on creating a secure environment that emphasizes privacy and transparency. However, GDPR has strict rules, and the European Union has prioritized citizen data protection. While the United States is also searching for top data privacy solutions to move with time and technology.

Did we miss any difference between both privacy laws? Need any kind of help related to data privacy issues? Let us know in the comment section below, or feel free to reach out. Your Digital Self would help you discover technical solutions to secure your digital privacy.

Michiel Top
Michiel Top
While working on strategic positioning, marketing and sales programs for various companies, I was shocked again and again by how easily accessible private information actually is. Around 2017, when I was designing an online customer management system, it occurred to me how we could turn the tables. Then in mid-2020, when my own GDPR application to a well-known data enrichment company failed, I knew something had to be done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.