Practicing Privacy Online: Examining Data Protection Regulations Through Google’s Global Expansion


The growth of commerce on the internet has created a paradigm shift where the biggest companies are no longer producers who sell products and services to consumers, but rather data collectors who sell consumers and their information to advertisers.  As the largest data collecting corporation-both in terms of sheer size and scope of operations-search engine giant Google has attempted to introduce its increasingly diverse products to every major global market, with mixed success depending on the regulatory framework of the market.

This Note looks at how Google has fared in three of the world’s biggest internet markets-the United States, the European Union, and China-and what its experiences have revealed about each market’s views on protecting the personal data. of its citizens online.  In light of those experiences, this Note goes a step further in exploring what each data protection regime can do-highlighting the importance of informed user consent-to better achieve, or maintain, a balance between economic and privacy interests in an era of rapidly changing threats to privacy.