Hatch moves to swiftly pass key privacy bill

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchA bipartisan bright spot we can’t afford to pass up: child welfare reform Medicare trust fund running out of money fast Long past time to fix evidence-sharing across borders MORE (R-Utah) has moved to speed passage of a key privacy bill that is linked to several transatlantic data sharing agreements.

The so-called Judicial Redress Act would give EU citizens the right to challenge misuse of their personal data in a U.S. court, a right U.S. citizens already enjoy in Europe.

“Our legislation rights an inequity — a reciprocal benefit that has been withheld from our European allies with little justification,” Hatch said Tuesday on the Senate floor.

“It is the right and fair thing to do,” he added.

Monday night, Hatch moved to hotline the bill, meaning it could bypass normal floor procedure and pass swiftly if no senator objects.

The bill's approval is required to finalized an “umbrella agreement” between the U.S. and EU that would allow the two sides to exchange more data during criminal and terrorism investigations.

Hatch called the measure “the catalyst to finalizing the long-awaited data-protection deal.”

The House has already passed its companion legislation, and the Senate Judiciary Committee last week approved the upper chamber's measure.

“Given the global state of affairs, we simply cannot risk losing the critical benefits of the umbrella agreement,” Hatch added.

In recent weeks, the Judicial Redress Act was also drawn into the tense negotiations over another transatlantic data sharing agreement, the so-called Safe Harbor pact, which was invalidated last fall.

Hatch’s move to hotline his bill came hours before U.S. and EU officials revealed they had struck a deal to resurrect the legal framework that Facebook, Google and thousands of other American companies had used for nearly 15 years.

The European high court struck down the original arrangement in October, citing U.S. surveillance practices. The two sides faced a Jan. 31 deadline to craft a replacement before Europe’s data privacy regulators began enforcement action.

Many believed that passage of the Judicial Redress Act would help grease the wheels for negotiators.

Hatch echoed this conviction on Tuesday just minutes before Commerce Secretary Penny PritzkerPenny PritzkerOvernight Tech: Cable, satellite providers on the hot seat | A win for privacy groups | C-SPAN turns to Periscope during sit-in | Sandberg makes Facebook's case to conservatives Commerce chief blames 'misinformation' for internet domain fight White House ramping up pressure on Congress to pass TPP this year MORE announced agreement on the new Safe Harbor deal, now known as the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield.

“I am convinced that passing the Judicial Redress Act will build much-needed goodwill with our European allies who are currently negotiating the new Safe Harbor agreement,” Hatch said.