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Progress in Building Trust in Trans-Atlantic Data Flows

Last night, the US House passed the Senate-amended version of the Judicial Redress Act, now headed to President Obama for signature. Progress on this front matters. This needed legislation will form a critical part of a stable and trustworthy structure for free flow of data across borders – so essential for economic growth in our digital economy.

Following last week’s agreement between the United States and European Union on the Privacy Shield, a successor to the Safe Harbor Framework as a mechanism for protecting the flow of personal information in the commercial context, enactment of the Judicial Redress Act will further harmonize US and European privacy protections as well.

The Judicial Redress Act calls for granting foreign nationals protections that US nationals enjoy under the 1974 Privacy Act – notably, the right to sue for intentional misuse of their personal information contained in US law enforcement records. This addresses a long-standing complaint from EU stakeholders that they lacked a right to judicial redress in the United States that already exists in Europe. The new law thus removes a discriminatory feature of U.S. law that has no place in today’s world of globalized communications.

Signing it into law will help clear the way for the US and EU to sign the Data Privacy and Protection Agreement, which protects individual privacy rights when law enforcement agencies cooperate on a trans-Atlantic basis. The Agreement will provide a solid basis for law enforcement agencies to share information when it is necessary to prevent, investigate and prosecute serious crimes, including terrorism.

We and our member companies commend Representatives Sensenbrenner, Goodlatte and Conyers, together with Senators Hatch, Cornyn and Murphy, for their strong leadership on this groundbreaking initiative, and we urge President Obama to swiftly sign it into law.

Victoria Espinel

Author:

Victoria Espinel is a respected authority on the intersection of technology innovation, global markets and public policy. She leads strategic efforts that help shape the technology landscape in 60 countries through work in BSA’s 10 global offices.

Espinel also serves as the President of Software.org: the BSA Foundation. Software.org is an independent and nonpartisan international research organization created to help policymakers and the broader public better understand the impact that software has on our lives, our economy, and our society.

Espinel served for a decade in the White House, for both Republican and Democratic Administrations as President Obama’s advisor on intellectual property and, before that, as the first ever chief US trade negotiator for intellectual property and innovation at USTR. She was also a professor of international trade and intellectual property at the George Mason School of Law.

Espinel is a founding and ongoing co-sponsor of Girls Who Code’s Washington, DC, summer immersion program, which empowers young women to pursue careers in STEM fields. She speaks before audiences around the world to build visibility for the amazing things people can do with software, and encourages businesses, governments, and the public to support a policy environment that will enable even more software breakthroughs.

Espinel chairs the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Digital Economy and Society. She was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN), the principal advisory group for the US government on international trade. She holds an LLM from the London School of Economics, a JD from Georgetown University Law School, and a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriaespinel.

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