As our economy and companies become more digital and global, digital information outside the U.S becomes increasingly relevant to resolving civil disputes within our nation.
Digital information will be governed by a set of laws and values many U.S. companies and their lawyers are not familiar with , because the U.S. trades more heavily with nations outside the EU. While most industrialized (e.g., Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia) and newly industrializing (e.g., Singapore and South Africa) nations have developed laws compelling the transfer of relevant electronically stored information (ESI) in civil disputes, none has laws as liberal and far reaching as U.S. civil discovery procedures.
Far more important than the particular scope of any of the newly enacted privacy laws is what their enactments say about a growing international consensus on the cross-border transfer of electronic data. In addition to the BRICS and EU nations, Japan, Hong Kong, Argentina, Chile, South Korea, Columbia and Switzerland have data protection laws that are more restrictive than those in the U.S. Some countries have enacted blocking statutes that make it criminal to transfer protected information to the U.S. This, coupled with the fact that China, Russia and Mexico have strengthened their data privacy laws, suggests a trend toward more protection for ESI.
More international e-discovery disputes are likely