Senate Panel Approves Amended Judicial Redress Act

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved an amended version of the Judicial Redress Act, a bill that’s considered an important component to reaching a data-transfer agreement between the United States and European Union.

The decision to approve an amended bill, rather than the House-passed measure, means the quickest route to final passage would require the House to pass the new version, assuming the Senate passes the legislation. U.S. and EU negotiators are facing a Jan. 31 deadline for a data-transfer pact, and the House won’t be in session for votes until the week of Feb. 1.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), who offered the amendment, said he’s not concerned about potentially delaying final passage of the legislation, H.R. 1428.

“I would expect that given the broad support of the legislation in the Judiciary Committee that it will not be particularly controversial,” Cornyn told reporters after the markup.

The committee voted unanimously to approve the amendment.

The Judicial Redress Act, which the House passed in October, would give the citizens of U.S.-allied countries the right to sue federal agencies that mishandle their personal data. The committee voted 19-1 to approve the amended bill, with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) opposing the measure.

The amendment states that “in order to qualify as a covered country, a foreign country must permit commercial data transfers with the United States and may not impede the national security interests of the United States.”

If U.S. and EU negotiators fail to reach an agreement by Jan. 31, European authorities said they could begin pursuing enforcement actions against tech companies that continue with transatlantic data transfers.

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