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President Biden Takes Action to Shield American Personal Data

 |  March 5, 2024

In a move to safeguard the privacy of American citizens, President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Wednesday targeting the trade of personal data with countries deemed hostile to the United States, reported CNBC.

The executive order, which focuses on curtailing the business of selling personal information, aims to prevent companies and data brokers from trading sensitive data with nations identified as “countries of concern.” These nations, as outlined in the executive order, include China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela.

The Biden administration expressed concerns that data brokers and commercial entities could potentially sell personal data to these countries, which could then exploit the information for malicious purposes, including espionage and surveillance on Americans and military personnel.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland emphasized, “Our adversaries are exploiting Americans’ sensitive personal data to threaten our national security. They are purchasing this data to use to blackmail and surveil individuals, target those they view as dissidents here in the United States, and engage in other malicious activities.”

Read more: EU and US Reach Data Privacy Agreement, Ensuring Safe Data Flows

The executive order specifically focuses on protecting sensitive information such as genomic data, biometric data, personal health data, geolocation data, financial data, and other personally identifiable information. It tasks the Department of Justice with issuing regulations aimed at safeguarding this data and directs the Department of Homeland Security and the DOJ to establish security standards to prevent hostile nations from commercially obtaining sensitive American data through various means such as investments, vendor contracts, and employment relationships.

Attorney General Garland further emphasized the significance of the executive order, stating, “This Executive Order gives the Justice Department the authority to block countries that pose a threat to our national security from harvesting Americans’ most sensitive personal data—including human genomic data, biometric and personal identifiers, and personal health and financial data.”

Moreover, the executive order mandates the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector to consider threats to Americans’ sensitive personal data when conducting reviews of submarine cable licenses, the White House added.

The issuance of this executive order underscores the Biden administration’s commitment to protecting the privacy and security of American citizens in an increasingly digital and interconnected world.

Source: CNBC