The Judicial Redress Act: Facilitating Cross-Border Data Flows by Expanding Privacy Rights to Foreign Nationals

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[From Left to Right] Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Bijan Madhani, Carl Schonander, Jared Bomberg, David Lieber, and Berin Szoka

On September 10, 2015, SIIA ‘s Carl Schonander and CCIA’s Bijan Madhani  cohosted and moderated an event with Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) on the Judicial Redress Act of 2015. SIIA strongly supports the Judicial Redress Act and hosted an event earlier this year on the subject with Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and John Conyers (D-MI).   These events demonstrate that there is bipartisan support for the bill, and SIIA urges prompt passage.

The Judicial Redress Act would provide the authority for the Attorney General, after consulting with the Departments of State, Treasury, and Homeland Security, to extend privacy rights for citizens of designated countries or regional economic integration organizations such as the European Union.   The Attorney General must determine that the country or organization effectively shares information with the United States for law enforcement purposes.

Senator Hatch strongly supports the Judicial Redress Act and underscored the bipartisan nature of the bill.  He also mentioned that passage would be a gesture of reciprocity as Americans have redress options in Europe.

Senator Murphy also strongly supported the bill and rightly put it in the broader context of restoring trust in transatlantic relations.  The U.S.-EU “umbrella agreement” on law enforcement is conditioned upon passage of the Act.  Beyond this agreement, as the Senator said, the bill is something of a “predicate for a renewed U.S. – E.U. Safe Harbor Framework.”

The Safe Harbor Framework is crucial for the innovation-driving industries SIIA represents.  We look forward to seeing the new Safe Harbor arrangement, which currently allows almost 4,000 companies to transfer data from Europe to the United States.  Moreover, passage of the Judicial Redress Act would be one element that could facilitate the binding data flow obligations in trade agreements that SIIA supports such as the Trade in Service Agreement and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

In addition to the Senators, the event featured a lively panel discussion.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)

Google’s David Lieber emphasized the importance of passing Judicial Redress for industry because of its importance for cross-border data flows.  He reminded the audience that the European Commission’s 2013 recommendations for restoring transatlantic trust included redress.

Jared Bomberg from Hogan Lovells did an admirable job explaining the Judicial Redress Act and the Privacy Act.  Understanding the Privacy Act is important because essentially what the Judicial Redress Act does is extend Privacy Protections for citizens from “covered countries” for records handled by “covered agencies.”  His explanation on the process for designating covered countries and covered agencies was especially illuminating.

TechFreedom’s Berin Szoka gave a vibrant presentation focused appropriately on the fact that passage of the Judicial Redress Act is good for the United States and industry.  It should not be viewed as a bill that is being considered due to pressure from foreign governments.  On the contrary, Szoka argued that passage of the bill could provide the United States with a tool to take the high ground in international discussions on privacy regimes that affect cross-border data flows.

SIIA has now facilitated two major congressional events on the Judicial Redress Act.  The arguments for passage are compelling.  Without overplaying its significance, the Act would be a gesture of reciprocal treatment for American and European citizens and thereby improve the political dynamics for a renewed Safe Harbor Framework and good data flow provisions in trade agreements.    We will be working during the coming months to support passage of the Judicial Redress Act of 2015.



Diane Diane Pinto is the Public Policy Coordinator at SIIA. Follow the Policy team on Twitter @SIIAPolicy.