Biden Executive Order Aims To Safeguard American Data From Foreign Entities

biden administration tackling data brokers and privacy
Privacy is a hot-button issue for individuals and the enterprise, which has lead to some clever innovations, such as self-destructing USB drives, among other devices. To that end, the Biden administration is looking to address data privacy with a new executive order with a goal to “protect Americans’ sensitive personal data from exploitation by countries of concern.” While the federal stance on privacy says one thing, though, opinions differ at the state level.

Earlier today, the Biden Administration published a fact sheet on an upcoming executive order to protect the sensitive data of Americans. For context, user data is bought and sold for a plethora of purposes, primarily for targeted advertising with sales up to 1000 times a day. However, in the modern era, user data can also be sold to build out artificial intelligence models or build user profiles for offensive political purposes, especially as we are going into an election year.

data biden administration tackling data brokers and privacy

The executive order gives several organizations, such as the Department of Justice to develop regulations, guidelines, and safeguards for data such as “genomic data, biometric data, personal health data, geolocation data, financial data, and certain kinds of personally identifiable information.” The fact sheet further notes that “The sale of Americans’ data raises significant privacy, counterintelligence, blackmail risks and other national security risks—especially for those in the military or national security community.” Further, there is concern that this data could be used “to intimidate opponents of countries of concern, curb dissent, and limit Americans’ freedom of expression and other civil liberties.”

meta biden administration tackling data brokers and privacy

While this could be considered a win for privacy in general, it is also juxtaposed with individual states’ stances. For example, the Attorney General of Nevada is currently engaged in legal proceedings with Meta over end-to-end encryption and, as of late, has escalated by requesting an injunction against the social media giant. In a filing from earlier in February, it was noted that “the State seeks to enjoin Meta from using end-to-end encryption (also called “E2EE”) on Young Users’ Messenger communications within the State of Nevada.” The argument against encryption from the state of Nevada primarily hinges on the concern that child predators use encryption to hide their activities, and Meta’s platform(s) are particularly enticing to youths who could be targeted.

All told it is quite an interesting time to discuss privacy rights as we go into an election year, and we could expect both this and artificial intelligence to be key talking points for candidates. However, this is not a politically limited discussion and involves companies that deal in data at a large scale, all the way down to the consumer (or product, depending on how you view it).

Let us know what you think about the disjunction of privacy rights at every level in the comments below.