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House Passes Judicial Redress Bill

The House has passed a bill that could help with the restoration of a privacy safe harbor agreement between the U.S, and the EU that was invalidated by an EU court after it concluded Edward Snowden leaks about U.S. surveillance called into question whether U.S. companies could insure the privacy of information.

The Judicial Redress Bill, which passed Tuesday (Oct. 20), gives the citizens of some of the U.S.'s allies access to records about them that have been collected by the U.S. government, as well as the ability to amend those records and, importantly, civil redress (the right to file a civil suit) when such records are unlawfully disclosed.

Two weeks ago, in a decision that affects worldwide data flows, the European Union Court of Justice ruled that the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor framework that allows for the transfer of data from EU countries to non-EU countries is invalid because the U.S. cannot adequately protect its privacy. (

One of the reasons for invalidating the harbor, the court said at the time, was the lack of legal redress or EU members in the U.S.

The bill's passage drew a flood of reaction from Washington.

"The Judicial Redress Act of 2015 is central to our efforts to rebuild strained relationships with our allies and ensure privacy and security for both American and European Union citizens," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) who was one of the bill's key backers.

“Passage of this legislation is a crucial step forward in restoring global public trust in the American government and tech companies,” TechNet President Linda Moore, said following the vote. 

"CEA commends the House for quickly passing the Judicial Redress Act, a commonsense bill that will begin to restore international consumers' trust in American businesses," said Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro. "By extending U.S. judicial recourse to the citizens of our European allies, this legislation shows that the U.S. government is committed to protecting the privacy of individuals, restoring trust in American businesses and encouraging the sharing of important information between U.S. and EU law enforcement."

The app community called on the Senate to pass the bill as well. "“The passage of the Judicial Redress Act by the House of Representatives is the first step in reaching a new, and essential safe harbor agreement between the United States and the European Union," said Apps Alliance President Jake Ward. "The Senate and the Administration should move quickly to find a solution that allows innovative U.S. developers and entrepreneurs to deliver their products and services in Europe. The longer this process takes, the more risk and regulatory red tape developers and small businesses face when doing business in European Union countries.”

The Software & Information Industry Association seconded the call for Senate action. "

“Now that the House has passed this important legislation, we urge the Senate to act as soon as possible," said SIAA SVP Mark MacCarthy. "Once signed into law, the Judicial Redress Act will help restore public confidence in transatlantic data flows, which are vital for the continued economic growth of the United States. The Act should smooth the waters for a new agreement between the European Union and the United States on a Safe Harbor Framework for data flows. 

"Given that the European Court of Justice recently struck down a safe harbor agreement that allowed companies to store European user data on American servers, the bill is an important step in restoring America’s reputation on privacy and ensuring that American companies will be able to continue to operate in the European market," said Tech Freedom.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.