USLegal Newsletter May 2018 – How New EU Privacy Rules are Affecting U.S. Consumers and Businesses

In the past week or two, you may have received email notices from companies letting you know that they have updated their terms of service, ad choices, and privacy policies. This is likely the result of sweeping new privacy rules that went into effect in May across the European Union. These laws do not directly apply to American consumers. However, major U.S. tech companies, large and small businesses, nonprofits, and even solo entrepreneurs which serve European consumers must comply with the new regulations or face the possibility of stiff fines and other penalties.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) primarily accomplishes two main goals. First, it gives individuals living in 28 EU member countries more rights to control how their personal data is collected and used. Second, GDPR places more obligations on companies, businesses, and organizations to protect personal data.

“Personal data” includes such things as name, address, email, photo, IP address, location, web browsing history, gender, race, religion, health information, genetic information and more.

In a nutshell, European consumers now have the following rights:

  • the right to have privacy policies explained to them in a clear manner an average person can understand
  • the right consent to use of their personal data
  • the right know what data a company has collected about them and what it is being used for
  • the right to know if their data is being shared or sold
  • and the right to in some instances have their data deleted

While American consumers do not have the same protections now, U.S. citizens are seeing an indirect benefit with some companies proactively improving privacy standards for all.  Privacy law experts also note GDPR could lead more American consumers and privacy advocacy groups to call upon U.S. lawmakers to strengthen our data privacy laws.

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Legal Definitions

Right to Privacy

The right to privacy is the “right to be let alone.” The right to privacy is not mentioned in the Constitution, but the Supreme Court has interpreted several of the amendments as creating this right. More

For more legal definitions, please visit our free online legal dictionary at