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Amidst a flurry of votes on Tuesday night, the Senate quietly passed the Judicial Redress Act, a bill CompTIA has been supporting for months. 24 hours later, the House followed suit and passed the Senate's version of the bill to send it to the President's desk. This marks a huge win for the tech industry and privacy advocates in the US and EU alike.
While the actual effect of the bill is minor, the Judicial Redress Act had recently become a symbol for the U.S. government taking the privacy of European citizens seriously. The bill itself would grant citizens of designated countries the ability to find out what information American law enforcement has on them, correct that information if it's wrong, and give them redress in U.S. courts if that information is improperly disclosed (U.S. citizens already have these rights in the EU). Its relevance skyrocketed when the EU Court of Justice mentioned the lack of redress rights for EU citizens as one of the reasons for overturning the US-EU Safe Harbor Agreement in October. It has since been viewed as a critical piece of reaching a new cross-Atlantic data sharing agreement.
Just last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the EU Commission announced that they had agreed to a new such agreement, called the Privacy Shield. However, before it can go into effect, it needs to be approved by the EU member states, and passage of the Judicial Redress Act will go a long way towards getting that approval.
The House passed an earlier version of the bill in October (shortly after the CJEU's decision), but momentum slowed in the Senate. An amended version of the bill finally passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in late January. The amended bill would only allow redress rights to citizens of countries who shared commercial data with the U.S. Essentially, this amendment allows the bill to go into effect only if the EU member states approve the Privacy Shield. Hopefully they will do so, and American companies will be able to again transfer date back to the U.S. without fear of sanction.