Facebook, Google, Microsoft ask Congress to pass privacy rights for Europeans

Major tech companies are joining with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to urge lawmakers to extend American privacy protections to foreigners in Europe. 

Nearly two years after Edward Snowden’s leaks about U.S. spying, Silicon Valley is still struggling from foreign distrust, companies wrote to congressional leaders on Tuesday. 

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But extending data protections to citizens in other nations would go a long way to rebuilding that bridge and providing some security for American businesses. 

“This will help foster a robust relationship between the U.S. and the EU and rebuild trust in U.S.-EU data flows,” trade groups and individual companies wrote. “Transnational data flows serve as a key component of the digital trade that increasingly drives U.S. economic growth.”

In particular, they urged support for the Judicial Redress Act, introduced by Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Jim SensenbrennerFrank (Jim) James SensenbrennerProtecting the fundamental right of all Americans to have access to the voting booth Republicans compare Ron Johnson to Joe McCarthy: NYT GOP puts pressure on Pelosi over Swalwell MORE (R-Wis.) earlier this year. The bill would extend to citizens of major U.S. allies core provisions of the Privacy Act, which outline protections for Americans’ personally identifiable data. 

Tech companies have repeatedly claimed that Snowden’s leaks have caused a massive disruption in foreigners’ trust of American companies, which has spurred them to avoid some U.S. companies. The loss of business could be in the tens of billions of dollars

In response, some giants have joined together in the Reform Government Surveillance, which has vigorously lobbied lawmakers to reform the National Security Agency. Other industry trade groups have also been heavily focused on the issue. 

The Judicial Redress Act would “help restore the public trust necessary for the continued success of U.S. industry,” companies told lawmakers. 

The letter was signed by individual companies such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook, as well as industry trade groups inducing the Information Technology Industry Council and the Computer and Communications Industry Association. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the nation’s largest business lobby — also signed on to the letter.