This column has previously featured two areas where EU data protection law has come into conflict with U.S. law.[FOOTNOTE 1] In each case the conflict was resolved, more or less, by government-to-government negotiation. Another such conflict arises where the discovery requirements[FOOTNOTE 2] of U.S. litigation (or agency investigations or audits required by U.S. law) challenge the EU data protection laws.

The scope of discovery in U.S. litigation is quite extensive. But if U.S. discovery law is the irresistible force, then EU data protection law, which imposes strict limitations on the processing of personal data, is the immovable object. And this genre of conflict is now arising with increasing frequency.

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