President Biden Blocks Mass Transfer of Personal Data to High-Risk Nations

U.S. President Joe Biden has issued an Executive Order that prohibits the mass transfer of citizens’ personal data to countries of concern.

Key pointers in The Executive Order:

The Executive Order also “provides safeguards around other activities that can give those countries access to Americans’ sensitive data,” the White House said in a statement.

This includes sensitive information such as genomic data, biometric data, personal health data, geolocation data, financial data, and certain kinds of personally identifiable information (PII).

The Executive Order directs the federal agencies to issue regulations that establish clear protections for sensitive personal and government-related data from access and exploitation, as well as set high-security standards to limit data access via commercial agreements.

Additionally, the order requires the Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, and Veterans Affairs to ensure that Federal grants, contracts, and awards are not misused to facilitate access to sensitive data.

“Commercial data brokers and other companies can sell this data to countries of concern, or entities controlled by those countries, and it can land in the hands of foreign intelligence services, militaries, or companies controlled by foreign governments,” the government said.

The U.S. government said threat actors could weaponize this information to track their citizens and pass that information to data brokers and foreign intelligence services, which can then be used for intrusive surveillance, scams, blackmail, and other violations of privacy.

“The Administration’s decision to limit personal data flows only to a handful of countries of concern, like China, is a mistake,” Senator Ron Wyden said in a statement, and that the argument that the U.S. government cannot be banned from buying Americans’ data is no longer valid.

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