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Biden Issues Decree Limiting Sale of Personal Data to Certain Countries

Wednesday 28 February 2024 - 15:46
Biden Issues Decree Limiting Sale of Personal Data to Certain Countries

President Joe Biden has signed a decree aimed at curbing the mass sale of American personal data to specific "countries of concern," particularly targeting the sale of geolocation, genomic, financial, biometric, health, and other personally identifiable information to Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. The order addresses national security risks posed by the multibillion-dollar data broker industry, which has long operated with minimal oversight.

The decree prohibits data brokers and other companies from directly or indirectly selling large quantities of American personal information to the mentioned countries. Furthermore, it allows for the imposition of additional restrictions on companies' ability to sell data as part of cloud service contracts, investment agreements, and employment contracts.

However, the enforcement of these new measures by the Justice Department remains unclear. Currently, there is limited regulation governing the data broker industry, and the order will not completely halt the widespread sale of American data to countries and companies not deemed "at risk." Researchers and privacy advocates have repeatedly warned of national security risks associated with data brokers. A recent report revealed that Duke University researchers were able to easily purchase a significant trove of personal and medical records on U.S. military personnel while posing as foreign agents.

Biden's decree aims to address vulnerabilities in Americans' privacy protections from foreign exploitation or surveillance. Nonetheless, striking a balance between data-driven economic interests and security concerns will necessitate clarifying enforcement measures and expanding regulatory oversight of this lucrative yet shadowy industry.

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