One Pen Stroke Closer to U.S.-EU ‘Privacy Shield’: Congressional Legislation Awaits the President’s Signature

By Rachel Stevenson

In the stalemate culture of Washington DC politics, privacy and security issues prevailed last week when Congress passed the Judicial Redress Act (H.R. 1428/S. 1600) on Feb. 10th.  This show of Congressional support is important as the U.S. and EU continue to work toward adoption of the Data Privacy and Protection Agreement (DPPA). DPPA, also known as an “Umbrella” agreement, covers personal data exchanges between the U.S. and EU so law enforcement can work to prevent, investigate, and adjudicate transnational crimes.  The Judicial Redress Act is vital for the EU to adopt DPPA, whereby extending law enforcement information sharing and generating positive international cooperation.

With the invalidation of the Safe Harbor agreement, the Judicial Redress Act significantly impacted the negotiations that created the U.S.-EU ‘Privacy Shield.’  (For more information on ‘Privacy Shield,’ check out Polsinelli on Privacy Blog). This legislation recognizes the importance of data sharing and facilitated agreements on how to govern those data exchanges especially within the international business community.  When addressing this bill, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA-06) explained that it would promote, “a healthy environment for U.S. companies to do business overseas.” Bottom line, this legislation is viewed as a good faith effort by the U.S. to restore trust in a post-Snowden age. 

As Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) explained, “Despite months of delay, the Judicial Redress Act will cement the vital international relationships we rely on to fill gaps in law enforcement and support U.S. technology companies conducting business abroad.”

With bipartisan, bicameral support, the Judicial Redress Act was sent to President Obama on February 12, 2016 and is expected to be signed into law in the coming days. With the President’s signature, the U.S. will be one pen stroke closer to broadening data privacy, security, and trust between the U.S. and the EU.