By Hannah Lepow
On October 20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would expand the privacy rights of citizens of the European Union in the United States. The bill, known as the Judicial Redress Act of 2015, would allow EU citizens and citizens of other allied nations limited rights to file suit in U.S. courts under the Privacy Act over allegations that the U.S. government misused their personal data.
The bill, introduced in the House by Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Rep. Conyers (D-Mich.), passed by voice vote, and enjoyed broad bipartisan support. Reps. Sensenbrenner and Conyers were joined by Rep. Goodlatte (R-Va.) in stating: “Today’s bipartisan passage of the Judicial Redress Act will help restore our allies’ faith in U.S. data privacy protections and helping facilitate agreements, such as the Data Protection and Privacy Agreement, that strengthen our trans-Atlantic partnerships with Europe.”
Passage of the bill comes two weeks after the Court of Justice of the European Union invalidated the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor arrangement. The CJEU cited the lack of judicial redress for EU citizens in the U.S. as one of its reasons for finding that Safe Harbor did not adequately protect privacy. Companies that relied on Safe Harbor had been urging the House to pass the bill; Google, Facebook, Microsoft, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other businesses wrote a letter to House leaders last week stating: “Now, more than ever, passage of [the Judicial Redress Act] is crucial to restoring public trust in our government and the U.S. technology sector. Restoring that trust is essential to continued cross-border data flows, which is vital for the continued competitiveness across all American industries.”
The Senate has yet to take up a companion bill.