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    Biden to sign order aimed at protecting Americans' private data from foreign nations

    By Clyde Hughes,


    Feb. 28 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden will issue an executive order Wednesday aiming to protect the most sensitive information of Americans online from foreign "countries of concern."
    President Joe Biden on Wednesday will sign an executive order aimed at protecting Americans' data from foreign nations. Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI

    Biden will authorize Attorney General Merrick Garland and the U.S. Department of Justice to stop the large-scale transfer of personal data of Americans to other countries that have "a track record of collecting and misusing data on Americans" and place safeguards on other activities that can endanger such information.

    Protected information will include genomic data, personal health data, geolocation data, financial data and certain personal identification data. Authorities said such information has been of high value for data brokers and cyber criminals, which enables them to blackmail individuals, surveil others, and create scams, among other privacy concerns.

    "Companies are collecting more of Americans' data than ever before, and it is often legally sold and resold through data brokers," the White House said.

    "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 controlled by foreign governments."

    Biden is expected to ask the Justice Department to issue regulations to establish clear protections for sensitive information, establish greater protection of government-related data, set up high-security standards to discourage bad actors.

    The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security will also work to set standards aimed at preventing countries of concern from accessing Americans' data through commercial means including relationships with employees, vendors and investments.

    Additionally, the Department of Health And Human Services, the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans affairs will be instructed to make sure that federal grants, contracts and awards are not used in ways that will expose Americans' sensitive health data to countries of concern, including companies that are located within the United States.

    The Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecom Services Sector will also weigh threats to U.S. personal data as it reviews licenses for submarine cables.

    Lastly, the administration said it will order the agencies to ensure that these protections don't blockade necessary information for financial services or sever consumer, economic, scientific and trade ties between the United States and other nations.

    "These actions not only align with the U.S.' longstanding support for the trusted free flow of data but also are consistent U.S.' commitment to an open Internet with strong and effective protections for individuals' privacy and measures to preserve governments' abilities to enforce laws and advance policies in the public interest," the White House said.

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