Washington — At a Capitol Hill briefing co-hosted by the Computer & Communications Industry Association and the Software & Information Industry Association yesterday, Senators Orrin Hatch and Chris Murphy strongly called for the passage of the Judicial Redress Act.  

In his opening remarks, Sen. Hatch, R-Utah, said that passage of the bill was an issue of fairness to the citizens of U.S. allies and underscored its importance to transatlantic data flows.  Sen. Murphy, D-Conn., echoed his remarks and emphasized the bill’s importance as a requirement for the final adoption of the U.S.-EU “umbrella” agreement on law enforcement data transfers and as a helpful predicate for the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor framework currently under negotiation.

CCIA and SIIA hosted the event two days after the EU and U.S. finalized the terms of the DPPA or “umbrella agreement.”  But for the agreement to be approved, the European Parliament is waiting for Congress to pass the Judicial Redress Act, giving Europeans and the citizens of other U.S. allies the right to ensure data held about them is accurate and not improperly disclosed.

Sen. Murphy thanked senior European and U.S. officials for finalizing the DPPA, saying that it “was not a given,” and said it is now up to Congress to pass protections for citizens of Europe and other allies.  Sen. Murphy noted that during a bipartisan trip to Brussels, he learned how significantly the Snowden revelations had strained relations with Europe and characterized the passage of the Judicial Redress Act as a sign of good faith.

Following the two Senators’ remarks, an expert panel engaged in a lively discussion on the substantive aspects of the Judicial Redress Act and its wider significance to cross-border data flows.

Hogan Lovell’s Jared Bomberg provided a deep explanation of the Judicial Redress Act’s provisions and their intended effects.  He discussed the current operation of the U.S. Privacy Act and how the Judicial Redress Act would extend its rights and remedies, along with the long-standing exemptions, to covered individuals, as designated by the Department of Justice.

David Lieber, Senior Privacy Counsel at Google, focused on the significance of the Judicial Redress Act to the tech industry.  He discussed two key reasons.  The first related to the Act’s ability to help repair the unfortunate trust deficit in digital services that emerged in the wake of the Snowden revelations of mass surveillance in the U.S. and elsewhere.  He also detailed the two law enforcement and commercial data transfer agreements between the U.S. and EU that are explicitly and implicitly contingent on the passage of the Judicial Redress Act in order for them to be concluded.

TechFreedom’s President Berin Szoka was a passionate advocate for the bill, calling it a “no-brainer” that is good for Internet users and businesses.  He argued that passing the Judicial Redress Act is the right thing to do, saying, “if we can’t implement our own principles and give them to people we trust, then we have no credibility.”

CCIA has led industry advocacy for the Judicial Redress Act since its introduction earlier this year.  In addition to yesterday’s Senate briefing, CCIA has coordinated letters to Senate and House leadership emphasizing the Act’s importance for transatlantic data flows and international confidence in the tech industry’s digital services.

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