Table of Contents

Comparative Law and Regulation

Comparative Law and Regulation

Understanding the Global Regulatory Process

Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series

Edited by Francesca Bignami and David Zaring

Governance by regulation – rules propounded and enforced by bureaucracies – is taking a growing share of the sum total of governance. Once thought to be an American phenomenon, it is now a central form of state action in every part of the world, including Europe, Latin America, and Asia, and it is at the core of much international lawmaking. In Comparative Law and Regulation, original contributions by leading scholars in the field focus both on the legal dimension of regulation and on how this dimension operates in those places that have turned to regulation to meet their obligations.

Introduction. A new field: comparative law and regulation

Francesca Bignami

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, regulation and governance


When individuals post their photographs, shopping habits, and other personal data to social networking sites they are tracked and potentially harassed by the scores of corporate actors with access to their data. As governments worldwide have sprung into action to address this regulatory problem, industry groups and consumer advocates have also mobilized. To give but one example, in the past three years, the world’s leading social networking company has defended lawsuits claiming unfair consumer tracking in the United States and the European Union (EU), has settled administrative and civil enforcement actions brought by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the Belgian Data Protection Authority, and the Hamburg Data Protection Authority, and has lobbied for looser consumer-tracking rules in the European Union, the United States, Latin American countries, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation system. Although there are substantial limits on what social networking sites can do with personal data in the European Union and many Latin American countries, there are relatively few restrictions in the United States and various Asian jurisdictions.