…. German and American attitudes to privacy are grounded in different ideas of the relationship between the individual and the state, and encoded in different types of law. In 1970 Hesse, a German state, passed the world’s first data-protection statute. A federal law followed six years later. Thanks to patient-confidentiality rules, journalists, prosecutors and even his employer, Lufthansa, struggled to get the full medical facts about Andreas Lubitz, the pilot who flew an aircraft into a French mountain recently. Such difficulties would be hard to imagine in America, where data protection is mostly an issue of consumer regulation.
The growth in transatlantic travel and commerce has forced various creaky compromises. But the strains are showing.
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