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On Privacy, Why Is the EU So Different from the US?
Posted October 24th, 2012 - 11:33 am from London, England
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Posted October 24th, 2012 - 11:43 am from London, England
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Posted October 24th, 2012 - 1:22 pm by from Dijon, France (Permalink)

"the US has never had an instance when a government or
other third party took Americans' personal information and then used it to kill them."

Quite obviously not true, says this American. Private information is accessed and used all the time in US criminal convictions, and unlike most of Europe today, the US still has the death penalty, both on a State and Federal level. Without mentioning the US's extra-legal assassinations of US citizens.

There may have been fewer totalitarian regimes in the US than in some European countries, but the McCarthy era - for example - specialized in ruining people lives for their political beliefs. And this American instinct has not disappeared. Even in the most ridiculous ways, a US legislator losing his job because of private junk photos, or a US president hassled for a blowjob.

But many Americans have surrendered to the idea that "credit agencies", employers, banks and anyone with a few dollars to spend should have access to their private information. This is largely because government does not run the US, but big business. And we have a presidential candidate who wants to increase business control of all aspects of life. Perhaps CS is a small question for Americans, because their straights are so much more dire.

David



Posted October 24th, 2012 - 2:47 pm from London, England
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Posted October 24th, 2012 - 3:31 pm from Moalboal, Philippines
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Posted October 24th, 2012 - 4:01 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Thanks Sergei. What would be your advice to CouchSurfing if they wished to comply with European best practice and law?

Posted October 24th, 2012 - 4:34 pm from Moalboal, Philippines
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Posted October 24th, 2012 - 5:23 pm by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
"The problem with that is, of course, that none of us know exactly which way this B Corp wants to go."

We know a few things.

1) We know that this Delaware C Corporation does not want to become a legal B Corporation. They claimed to want to be transparent and socially responsible, but they have obviously decided to not take that route, since they have not applied for the status. In fact Benchmark, their first major investor, abandoned even the B Corp seal of approval.

2) We know that they have refused to accept EC privacy oversight.

Posted October 24th, 2012 - 6:48 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
As far as I know CS isn't selling software yet, but of the general recommendations to those companies this one would probably make sense:

"1. Always keep in mind the general European pro-consumer inclination and avoid clauses where the dominant party gets the upper hand or requires licensee to waive basic consumer rights."

My question was a bit different, though, independent from whatever business plan and objectives they may have.

The question was what CouchSurfing should do if they wished to comply with European best practice and law.

Another way to look at it would be: What are the main changes that would have to be made to their terms of use and policy if CS wanted to comply as if they were not only operating in Europe (out of California), but actually behaving like their "peers" who have some kind of presence in the European Union.

The wording of the terms and policies seems to have been chosen so as to cover all kinds of thinkable and unthinkable future eventualities, except for one: that they would at some stage in the future have a physical presence in the E.U., or that users in Europe don't accept to be treated more badly than by other companies operating in the territory, no matter where their offices are located.

Posted October 24th, 2012 - 1:52 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
"There is a much greater sense in the US that the law must be followed, and if not, it will be enforced."

Not sure how this "greater sense" expresses itself in real terms, but that sense seems to be underdeveloped within CouchSurfing management.