This paper seeks to add to the debate regarding the high
level of privacy and consumer protection provided by European
Union legislation, as compared to the United States. The first
the paper provides an overview of the highly complex system of
consumer protections by linking several regulatory initiatives
in the wake of the European Parliament and Council Directive
00/31/EC. The result is a new legal framework for e-consumer protection
that includes privacy protection.
In the second part of the paper, the different free Internet access
contract models in the U.S. and Italy are examined in order to
test the implementation of the above-mentioned legislation from
Community point of view. The analysis highlights the importance
of a legal framework that seems capable of establishing the correct
balance between the rights and duties of the e-consumer. At
present, however, such a balance is not achieved by common U.S.
and Italian free Internet access contracts.