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Chapter 13. PRIVACY AND THE LAW: 2001 > Laws Around the World

Laws Around the World

Our approaches in the United States are not those of the rest of the world, of course. The biggest difference between U.S. law and the law of other countries is the fact that in the United States, law is introduced in response to a specific incident or fear, rather than to address a condition that has not yet happened. The European approach of setting the framework first (top-down approach) is really foreign to the American way of life. We don't build the rules first. The Europeans do. It's a difference so basic that it makes it difficult to even talk to one another about the issue.

In the United States, we fear big government. In Europe, the government is central to all activities and the fear is of big business. Clearly, those statements are oversimplifications, but the differences in attitudes that the statements illustrate are fundamental to our cultures.


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