Key privacy bill heads to president's desk

Key privacy bill heads to president's desk
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A privacy bill considered integral to a pending transatlantic data transfer pact with the European Union is heading to President Obama's desk.

The House late Wednesday approved the Judicial Redress Act, which would give EU citizens the right to challenge the misuse of their personal data in a U.S. court. Americans already enjoy similar rights in most EU states.

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The lower chamber passed the measure in October, but the Senate tacked on a heavily debated amendment before passing its companion version this week, necessitating either a second vote in the House or a conference committee between the chambers.

But the relatively noncontroversial bill, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent, was able to breeze through the House a second time by voice vote.

The measure now heads to the White House.

"As this bill heads to President Obama's desk, I'm optimistic that it will be signed into law, completing a critical agreement with our allies and securing a safer future for the United States," said Rep. Jim SensenbrennerJames SensenbrennerAllow states to require remote sellers to collect legally owed taxes Justice reform is still alive and well after Trump election Pence to campaign with Ryan in Wisconsin MORE (R-Wis.), who sponsored the bill.

The Judicial Redress Act has long been a stated requirement of a law enforcement data-sharing “umbrella agreement" that would allow the U.S. and EU to exchange more information during criminal and terrorism investigations.

The bill is also was seen as a show of good faith to EU negotiators working to reestablish commercial data-sharing agreement with the U.S. The EU's top court axed the 15-year-old Safe Harbor pact last fall over concerns about U.S. spying.

The two sides were able to strike a new agreement earlier this month. The new deal, called Privacy Shield, should allow the roughly 4,400 U.S. firms that had relied on Safe Harbor to resume transatlantic data transfers.

But Privacy Shield has already been dogged by allegations that it will not pass muster with the strict European privacy regulators. The EU high court is also likely to hear challenges to the deal from digital rights advocates.