Hatch Calls on Senate to Pass Judicial Redress Act Swiftly

Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and chairman of the Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force, spoke on the Senate floor on the importance of passing the Judicial Redress Act, which passed in the Judiciary Committee last week by a vote of 19-1. Senator Hatch initiated the process of hotlining the Judicial Redress Act yesterday.

Our legislation rights an inequity—a reciprocal benefit that has been withheld from our European allies with little justification.  Cross-border data flows between the United States and Europe are the highest in the world.

“Today, most countries in the European Union affirmatively provide data protection rights to Americans on European soil.  Our European allies and their citizens should likewise have access to the core benefits of the Privacy Act when in the United States.  It is the right and fair thing to do.”

On the importance of our innovation economy, Senator Hatch addressed the need to finalize the current Safe Harbor agreement.

“For years, Safe Harbor rules have benefitted U.S. technology companies that provide cloud services to their European customers. Without a Safe Harbor agreement, however, U.S. cloud-based companies seeking to do business in Europe could be forced to negotiate with 28 individual countries in the European Union over how their citizens’ data is collected and stored.  Such a requirement would disrupt and chill trans-Atlantic business operations, jeopardize countless American jobs, and stifle domestic innovation.”

In his speech, Senator Hatch warned of the economic consequences should Congress not work to grant limited judicial redress to citizens of the European Union.

“The economic damage would be significant and relatively immediate—and the consequences could be catastrophic, especially for small enterprises.  Failure to reach an agreement would impact the economies of both the United States and our friends in the European Union.  If we are unable to reach a final Safe Harbor agreement soon, Congress must be prepared to take appropriate action to ensure that these negative consequences do not come to fruition.”

The full speech, as prepared for delivery, is below.

Mr. President: I rise today to emphasize the importance of the Judicial Redress Act—a bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee favorably reported last week by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 19 to 1.  As I speak, the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders are in the process of clearing this legislation by unanimous consent.

I am optimistic the Senate will pass the Judicial Redress Act in the coming days and that ultimately we will send this legislation to the President’s desk.

I want to thank Senator Chris Murphy for introducing this important bill with me and for the broad support we have built among both Republicans and Democrats.

I also want to acknowledge the good work of Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner and John Conyers for their efforts. They have been stalwarts in advancing this important legislation in the House of Representatives. It has been a true bipartisan, bicameral effort.

Simply stated, the Judicial Redress Act would extend certain data protections and remedies available to U.S. citizens under the Privacy Act to European citizens by allowing them to correct flawed information in their records and, in rare instances, the option to pursue legal remedies if federal agencies improperly disclose their data.

Our legislation rights an inequity—a reciprocal benefit that has been withheld from our European allies with little justification.  Cross-border data flows between the United States and Europe are the highest in the world.

Today, most countries in the European Union affirmatively provide data protection rights to Americans on European soil.  Our European allies and their citizens should likewise have access to the core benefits of the Privacy Act when in the United States.  It is the right and fair thing to do.

Passing the Judicial Redress Act is critical to ratification of the Data Privacy and Protection Agreement, commonly called the Umbrella Agreement.  This agreement allows for data transfers between European and American law enforcement officials for the purpose of fighting and investigating crime, including terrorism.

European officials have said they will not ratify the Umbrella Agreement until Congress provides E.U. citizens with limited judicial redress. Our bill is key to providing reciprocity to our European allies and will serve as the catalyst to finalizing the long-awaited data-protection deal.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which supports this legislation, states that failure to finalize the Umbrella Agreement “would dramatically reduce cooperation and significantly hinder counterterrorism efforts.”  Given the global state of affairs, we simply cannot risk losing the critical benefits of the Umbrella Agreement.

Mr. President, as chairman of the Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force, I am always seeking ways to keep our American technology industry at the forefront of the global economy. And 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—an international agreement that allows U.S. technology companies to move digital information between the European Union and the United States.

For years, Safe Harbor rules have benefitted U.S. technology companies that provide cloud services to their European customers. Without a Safe Harbor agreement, however, U.S. cloud-based companies seeking to do business in Europe could be forced to negotiate with 28 individual countries in the European Union over how their citizens’ data is collected and stored.  Such a requirement would disrupt and chill trans-Atlantic business operations, jeopardize countless American jobs, and stifle domestic innovation.

Indeed, business of all sizes and in all sectors would face profound consequences if we do not conclude a new Safe Harbor agreement.  The economic damage would be significant and relatively immediate—and the consequences could be catastrophic, especially for small enterprises.  Failure to reach an agreement would impact the economies of both the United States and our friends in the European Union.  If we are unable to reach a final Safe Harbor agreement soon, Congress must be prepared to take appropriate action to ensure that these negative consequences do not come to fruition.

In the meantime, Mr. President, it is critically important that Congress pass the Judicial Redress Act.  I am pleased that the Senate is swiftly moving towards this end, and I am optimistic that we will have a successful resolution in the coming days.

I thank my colleagues for their support in this effort.