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Senate Pushed to Pass Data Protection Measure

Computer companies, tech companies and others are urging the Senate to pass the Judicial Redress Act, which would give Europeans the ability to access and correct information about them stored in the U.S., as well as a legal path (that 'judicial redress' in the title) to challenge unlawful disclosure of their records.

That is considered a key to U.S. efforts to strike a new data Safe Harbor agreement with the EU after a court ruled the U.S. could not hold up its end of the Safe Harbor privacy protection and security agreement due to government surveillance revealed in the Edward Snowden leaks.

The House passed the bill in October.

In a letter to the chair and ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, over two dozen trade association heads including the Computer & Communications Industry Association and Consumer Technology Association (formerly CEA), said the act was "the last hurdle" to finalizing the agreement on transferring data between governments.

They pointed out that after the court decision, "many of the 4,400 companies that relied solely upon the Safe Harbor agreement to transfer data from the EU to the United States face tremendous uncertainty regarding what bases exist to justify transatlantic flows of data."

They said that given the importance the EU has put on the protections and rights in the bill, "it is now safe to say that passage of the measure is a critical precondition to concluding those negotiations."

Those negotiations have been in the works for a while, but took on new urgency after the EU Court invalidated the current voluntary safe harbor for exchange of data from EU to non-EU countries because the U.S. could not adequately protect its privacy.

In October, a senior European Union legal official had advised the EU court that the U.S. cannot ensure adequate privacy protections of a European Facebook subscriber's information transferred to U.S. servers, citing mass U.S. government (NSA) surveillance revealed by leaker Edward Snowden and saying that the 2000 safe harbor agreement between the EU and the U.S. was invalid.

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.