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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Struggling Over Civil Liberties: The Troubled Foundations of the West


Shared fundamental liberties and democratic principles have long provided the core of what observers of international affairs termed the West. While national institutions and policies have at times varied, they rarely challenged the foundations of the transatlantic partnership. With the rise of information technology and the new security environment, however, local variations in fundamental rights have produced significant international implications. Examining recent transatlantic disputes over privacy and free speech, the paper argues that a new set of international issues have emerged dealing with transnational civil liberties. Once core unifying principles of the transatlantic relationship these basic freedoms have transformed into flashpoints for conflict. After identifying this new trend, the paper argues that the nature of these conflicts is framed by the timing of international interdependence relative to the maturity of national regulatory regimes.

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