Fighting terrorism and aiding law enforcement investigations with the appropriate support of the technology industry should be a priority for our political leaders. The Senate has an opportunity this month to advance that goal by passing key legislation that the House already passed last year—the Judicial Redress Act of 2015. The bill is now scheduled for markup tomorrow by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

On its surface, the bill is simply about affording the citizens of several allied countries some legal rights regarding the accuracy and disclosure of information held by government agencies—similar to those U.S. citizens have in most European courts.


Citizens of designated countries would be granted the right to request access to records shared by their governments with a U.S. federal agency in the course of a criminal investigation, amend such records when they are erroneous, and seek redress when such records are unlawfully disclosed by an agency. The Judicial Redress Act is certainly worth passing on its own merits. But passage is also necessary to go forward on two pending agreements between the U.S. and Europe - one involving security and the other economics.

What too many people don’t realize is that the Judicial Redress Act is actually the last hurdle to finalizing a key security agreement with the European Union that allows for efficient data transfers between the two governments for the purpose of combatting crime and terrorism.

Negotiators for both the U.S. and EU reached an agreement on final language for the Data Privacy and Protection Agreement (DPPA) in September. However, only upon the enactment of the Judicial Redress Act will the European Parliament formally adopt the agreement.

As such, passage of the Judicial Redress Act is a key priority for the United States’ law enforcement community because of the significant advantages the DPPA would provide in preventing, investigating, detecting, and prosecuting transnational criminal offenses, including terrorism.

On those facts alone, the Judicial Redress Act would be worthy of passage by the Senate. But in addition to being a step toward transatlantic cooperation against serious crime and terrorism, the Judicial Redress Act will also significantly improve U.S. industry’s ability to do business in Europe.

Recently, the Court of Justice of the European Union invalidated the framework for EU-U.S. commercial data transfers, the Safe Harbor agreement. Thousands of U.S. companies, a majority of them small enterprises, relied on the Safe Harbor to legally transfer data from the EU to the United States. These data transfers facilitate everything from internal human resources functions at global companies, to the operation of social media websites and the commercial transactions of small online retailers.

U.S. and EU negotiators are now working around the clock to enact a new and strengthened Safe Harbor agreement so that companies can transfer data to the U.S. Companies would either have to halt some business operations or face significant legal scrutiny if negotiators fail to arrive at a new Safe Harbor agreement by the end of January. Importantly, the lead EU negotiators have pointed to the Judicial Redress Act as one of several key elements necessary for the successful conclusion of the Safe Harbor negotiations.

Recent events have shown that responsible cooperation on law enforcement matters with our partners across the Atlantic is more important than ever before. Unsurprisingly, there is widespread, bipartisan support for the Judicial Redress Act on Capitol Hill—yet the bill has not reached the Senate floor for a vote.

As the final stage of EU-U.S. Safe Harbor negotiations looms, the Senate now has the opportunity to enhance Europeans’ trust in the U.S. post-Snowden, strengthen U.S.-European cooperation in law enforcement and counterterrorism investigations, and help U.S. companies transfer commercial data under a new Safe Harbor.

For these reasons we call on senators to promptly vote on and pass the Judicial Redress Act.

Black is president & CEO of the Computer & Communications Industry Association.