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Introducing the Judicial Redress Act

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Two days ago the House of Representatives approved the Judicial Redress Act of 2015. This act, which still needs to go through the Senate, would allow foreigners the right to pursue their privacy rights in the US courts. While many are still trying to work out the impact of the death of safe harbour, this act at least gives EU citizens some privacy rights in the US and likely sets the way for a new safe harbour agreement.

This is no doubt a quick response to the recent ECJ’s judgement on safe harbour, and this is echoed in the joint statement by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers.

“Today’s bipartisan passage of the Judicial Redress Act will help restore our allies’ faith in U.S. data privacy protections and helping facilitate agreements, such as the Data Protection and Privacy Agreement, that strengthen our trans-Atlantic partnerships with Europe. This bill benefits not only our own law enforcement, but is a sign of good faith to our partners abroad. We are pleased with the resounding bipartisan support that has been shown for this measure by our colleagues, and urge the Senate to take up this measure as quickly as possible.”

Having said that, the bill does allow for sharing of information for law enforcement purposes and the extent that this is allowed will be closely scrutinised. This concern is Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, “In many ways, the Judicial Redress Act is a privacy bill —it is backed and supported by many of our country’s top privacy advocates —but make no mistake, the bill is crucial to US law enforcement. At the heart of the Judicial Redress Act is the pressing need for continued sharing of law enforcement data.

While this is a step in the right direction, time will tell if this sets the stage for safe harbour 2.