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Ever since the world learned that the National Security Agency (NSA) was forcing U.S. tech companies to spy on their customers, foreign governments and businesses have treated American-made hardware and software with extreme skepticism.
Now, many of the tech companies that the NSA exploited are asking Congress to pass a bill that would remedy some of those concerns.
Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and other tech giants sent a letter to the House of Representatives on Tuesday asking the chamber to pass the Judicial Redress Act. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.), would extend the data-sharing provisions of the U.S. Privacy Act to the citizens of European Union member-states and other close U.S. allies.
“The extension of rights provided for in the Judicial Redress Act is necessary to help restore public trust in both the U.S. government and the U.S. technology sector.”
If these protections were extended overseas, the thinking goes, companies and governments in the E.U. and other protected countries would feel more comfortable buying products that are subject to U.S. data-access procedures.
“U.S. companies across all sectors are suffering negative commercial consequences abroad” as a result of NSA leaks, the tech companies argued in their letter, “including loss of contracts, and face further burdens due to proposals to limit international data flows and impose onerous localization requirements on digital products and services.”
The Obama administration and the Department of Justice both support the Judicial Redress Act, and American citizens are already protected by reciprocal E.U. privacy protections.
“The extension of rights provided for in the Judicial Redress Act is necessary to help restore public trust in both the U.S. government and the U.S. technology sector,” the companies said.
In addition to famous Silicon Valley companies like Facebook and Google, the letter bears the signatures of major industry groups, including BSA | The Software Alliance and the Information Technology Industry Council, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest lobbying group in the country.
The Judicial Redress Act has been referred by its cosponsors to the House Judiciary Committee. A spokesperson for Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) did not respond to a request for comment.
Photo via Samiadd/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)
Eric Geller is a politics reporter who focuses on cybersecurity, surveillance, encryption, and privacy. A former staff writer at the Daily Dot, Geller joined Politico in June 2016, where he's focused on policymaking at the White House, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Commerce Department.