The Senate Judiciary Committee today successfully reported H.R. 1428, the Judicial Redress Act of 2015.  However, the bill included an amendment to the House-passed version that has the potential to influence current negotiations between the United States and the European Union to reach a new Safe Harbor agreement.

As we previously reported, the Judicial Redress Act of 2015 would allow EU citizens and citizens of other nations limited rights to file suit in U.S. courts under the federal Privacy Act of 1974 over allegations that the U.S. government misused their personal data.  Passage of the Judicial Redress Act is seen by many as key to the success of the ongoing negotiations between EU and U.S. representatives to reach a new Safe Harbor agreement before the January 31 deadline.

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the bill to the full Senate, but, at the eleventh hour, added an amendment that would require the foreign countries covered by the Act to permit the transfer of personal data for commercial purposes between that country and the United States, as well as require the U.S. Attorney General to certify that the transfer of personal data does not materially impede U.S. national security interests.  This new language could complicate current safe harbor negotiations, as the amendment would add further requirements to the extension of privacy rights to foreign citizens, as well as give U.S. regulators considerable flexibility to assert that certain commercial data transfers do not accord with U.S. national security interests.

The key sponsors of the Act urged that the full Senate schedule a vote on its passage at its earliest opportunity.  The House of Representatives passed a parallel measure in late 2015.