US privacy and security laws make distinctions among US persons and non-US persons that are becoming obsolete in a world where communications primarily take place over a global medium: the Internet.
The Privacy Act of 1974 is one of those laws. It is an important law that creates rights - including judicial redress - against privacy harms that may arise from the US government’s collection and use of personal information. The Privacy Act, however, does not apply to non-US persons.
Last November, Google endorsed legislation that would extend the Privacy Act to non-US persons. Since then, Congressmen Sensenbrenner and Conyers have introduced legislation - the Judicial Redress Act - that would create a process to extend the Privacy Act to non-US persons. Senators Hatch and Murphy have introduced a companion bill in the Senate.
The Judicial Redress Act is an important first step toward establishing a framework whereby users have comparable privacy protections regardless of their citizenship.
Earlier today, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed this bill, which enjoys support from a broad array of Internet companies and trade associations. We commend the Judiciary Committee’s action today, and we encourage the House leadership to move swiftly to pass this important bill.