Lawmakers back privacy rights for noncitizens


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House lawmakers advanced a bill Thursday that would extend some of the rights conferred on Americans by the Privacy Act to citizens of Europe and other U.S. allies, allowing them to access and seek corrections to personal data about them held by federal agencies.

H.R. 1428, the Judicial Redress Act, was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on a voice vote, according to a statement from Chairman Robert Goodlatte, R-Va. The bill must next be considered on the House floor, after the parameters of debate on it are set by the powerful Rules Committee. There was no word Thursday on when that might happen.

The bill is supported by a slew of technology industry associations, including BSA The Software Alliance, the Computer and Communications Industry Association, the Consumer Electronics Association and the Information Technology Industry Council.

“As a result of the U.S. surveillance revelations that began over two years ago,” the trade associations wrote to the committee Wednesday, government and the technology sector in the United States “have experienced a substantial degradation in trust worldwide.”

“The enactment of the Judicial Redress Act would constitute another step in rebuilding the trust of citizens worldwide in both our industry and the U.S. government,” the groups continued.

Goodlatte’s statement echoed those sentiments. “Approval of this bill will go a long way toward restoring our allies’ faith in U.S. data privacy protections,” he said, adding it would also help ensure the enactment of the so-called “umbrella deal” with Europe — properly known as the Data Privacy and Protection Agreement — which governs the transfer of data between the United States and the EU for the purpose of combatting crime and terrorism.

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