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Biden Issues Executive Order to Protect Personal Data

President Biden on Wednesday issued an executive order to prevent Americans’ large-scale personal data from being “transfer[red] … to countries of concern,” such as China, Iran, Russia and North Korea, according to The Verge.

What’s going on: “The White House says it’s targeting data brokers, which it says collect more personal data than ever before—data that includes things like personal health and financial data.”

  • This information can be used by countries of concern in a number of nefarious ways, including “malicious cyber-enabled activities, espionage and blackmail,” according to Reuters (subscription). 
  • Under the order, the Justice Department will create rules to stop adversarial countries from exploiting personal information “related to genomics, biometrics, personal health, finances, geolocation and ‘certain kinds of personal identifiers,’” The Verge reports. 
  • And the departments of Defense, Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs will be empowered to ensure that health data cannot be transferred through other channels, such as federal grants.
  • Lastly, the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector—often referred to as Team Telecom—will be required to weigh threats to personal data during the review of submarine cable licenses.

What’s next: These restrictions do not take effect immediately. The Justice Department will soon issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to provide additional details on the proposed rules and solicit comments from the public. (More information is available here.)

The last word: The executive order “fills a key gap in our national security authorities, affording the Justice Department a new and powerful enforcement tool to protect Americans and their most sensitive information from being exploited by our adversaries,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

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