Internet Commerce: Why You Should Pay Attention Overseas?
It is easy to imagine the internet as an American innovation. Many large internet-related names as we know them have started in this county: For example, they include, Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Netflix. These five entities are nicknamed as the "FAANG" stocks, and are known for their consistent growth. Yet, this isn't to say these companies are completely immune from the long arm of another country's laws. So, why should you, as a business, pay attention to what happens overseas? How might watching these entities help lead to solutions? What is the place of a U.S.-based company on the internet today?
As it currently stands, the major buzz in internet commerce regarding overseas commerce has been the measures taken by the European Union. With the GDPR and Privacy Shield programs, business entities here have been required to comply with the new rules and regulations. This is primarily because if an entity wishes to sell products or services to individuals in the European Union, then non-compliance may carry a hefty fine. For example, an infringement under the GDPR may cost an entity almost $24,000,000. The GDPR and Privacy Shield policies would also require that entities create safeguards, aiming to protect their citizens. The GDPR focuses more on the users' rights over their data, such as a right to be forgotten, and a right to a copy of their data. In comparison, the Privacy Shield focuses on protecting that data in the first place, requiring companies to self-certify annually that they are meeting certain requirements, and providing alternative dispute resolution for EU citizens with complaints regarding the handling of their data.
The effect of court judgments may become murky as Google is currently seeking to block a Canadian judgment that would prohibit it from listing a defendant's website in its search results. In short, the case is about censorship and how a foreign court's ruling can affect the rights or responsibilities of an international search engine. Here, Google is claiming, in part due to international parity, that to enforce the Canadian ruling would deprive it of rights and privileges its enjoy within the United States.
This would be a possible argument ordinary businesses may enjoy, as Congress may continue to make new laws that benefit e-commerce and international transactions. However, Google's case may still be unique and non-applicable to other businesses as it is a case relying on its alleged role as a publisher of information. This would mean it would be more comparable to websites like Yelp (presuming it is held liable as a publisher of information in a different country) than a website which operates like Amazon.
At our law firm, we guide clients in legal matters involving business, technology, and e-commerce by using our knowledge and skills to create innovative solutions. You may contact us today to set up a confidential consultation.