President Obama Signs Law Giving EU Citizens Judicial Privacy Redress in U.S. Courts

    Mar 08, 2016

    President Obama on February 24 signed into law a “Judicial Redress Act” (H.R. 1428) to grant EU citizens limited access to U.S. courts for the government misuse of their personal data transferred to the U.S.  Enactment of this legislation was critical to resolving the negotiations over the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield to replace the Safe Harbor Program that was invalidated by the European Court of Justice.  Under the new law, residents of countries or “regional economic integration organizations,” such as the EU, could sue U.S. government agencies for violations of the Privacy Act of 1974, which prohibits agencies from disclosing records pertaining to individual persons except in limited circumstances.   

    Under the Judicial Redress Act, the U.S. Justice Department could designate a country or organization that has a data-sharing privacy protection agreement with the U.S. or shares law enforcement information and has adequate privacy protections.  To be eligible for designation, the country or organization would also have to allow personal data to be transferred to and from the U.S. for commercial purposes, and the data transfer policies would not materially impede U.S. national security interests.  In a statement upon its enactment, Vera Jourova, the EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, called the U.S. Judicial Redress Act an “historic achievement in our efforts to restore trust in transatlantic data flows.”

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