On January 28, 2016, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Judicial Redress Act (the “Act”), which would give EU citizens the right to sue over certain data privacy issues in the U.S. The Act passed after an amendment was approved which would condition EU citizens’ right to sue on EU Member States (1) allowing companies to transfer personal data to the U.S. for commercial purposes and (2) having personal data transfer policies which do not materially impede the national security interests of the U.S. The vote was initially set to take place on January 21, 2016, but was delayed.
Passage of the Act may have an impact on ongoing post-Safe Harbor negotiations on trans-Atlantic data transfers from the EU to the U.S., as strengthened privacy rights for EU citizens are an important component to any new Safe Harbor agreement. As we previously reported, the Article 29 Working Party announced in October 2015 that if no Safe Harbor agreement is reached by the end of January 2016, national data protection authorities may decide to initiate enforcement actions against companies that continue to rely on the invalidated Safe Harbor agreement to transfer data to the U.S.