The US House of Representatives has quickly passed the Judicial Redress Act. It now goes to the Senate where it is expected to be passed without much opposition. If passed into law, the bill would give non-citizens the same right to legal redress that US citizens currently enjoy if their privacy is violated by law enforcement.
The passage of the bill is being pushed by tech giants after the European Court of Justice overturned a data sharing deal between the US and the EU. Under EU law, companies cannot transfer personal data into countries which have lower standards of privacy protection than the EU. The Safe Harbor deal, which allowed routine transfers of data between EU and US servers by companies like Facebook and Google, was found to violate this principle. One of the key issues in the case was that if law enforcement violated a person’s privacy, EU citizens have no way of seeking a legal remedy through the court system.
This bill is clearly aimed at addressing the ECJ’s concerns so that a new data sharing deal can be negotiated between the US and the EU. Jim Sensenbrenner, one of the bill’s sponsors, argued the importance of the bill stating, “The sudden termination of the Safe Harbor framework strikes a blow to U.S. businesses by complicating commercial data flows. If we fail to pass the Judicial Redress Act, we risk similar disruption to the sharing of law enforcement information.”
The House was praised for passing the bill by the The Software and Information Industry Association, a group which includes several tech giants as member, including Apple, Google, and Facebook. The SIIA Senior Vice President for Public Policy stated, “The Judicial Redress Act will help restore public confidence in transatlantic data flows, which are vital for the continued economic growth of the U.S. The Act should smooth the waters for a new agreement between the EU and the U.S. on a Safe Harbor Framework for data flows.” Several tech companies raised the alarm about the end of the Safe Harbor deal, because they depended on it for the transfer of payroll and human resources data. The passage of the bill is the first step to getting a new data transfer deal, and once a new deal is in place, these tech companies can return to business as usual.
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