Biden administration plans executive order to restrict foreign access to Americans’ personal data, citing national security concerns

The Biden administration is preparing an executive order aiming to restrict foreign access to sensitive American data, addressing AI concerns and targeting political figures to protect national security.

Hacker with laptop and USA flag in background. Cyber attack concept

The Biden administration is preparing an executive order to restrict foreign access to sensitive personal data of American citizens and government officials to protect national security and foreign policy.

The draft order obtained by Bloomberg addresses foreign adversaries gaining access to Americans’ sensitive data through various legal means, including intermediaries like data brokers and third-party agreements. The White House is also concerned about AI mining of sensitive data, fearing it could be used to track and profile Americans and federal employees, potentially leading to espionage or blackmail.

The administration is alarmed about the targeted data collection on political figures, journalists, academics, activists, and marginalized communities and patient data obtained through healthcare providers and researchers. Additionally, the proposed order aims to protect data from government officials, including the military. Namely, the order calls to restrict or prohibit government officials from engaging in transactions where adversarial countries could access government-related data that could threaten national security.

Why does it matter?

Much of the trade in personal information takes place through data brokers, who purchase Social Security numbers, names, addresses, income, employment history, and criminal background data, among other things, CNN reports. While this data can be legitimately used for background checks and credit checks, there is a risk that it can become a powerful tool for surveillance. A study conducted by researchers at Duke University found that apparent home addresses and health conditions of thousands of active-duty US military personnel can be easily and cheaply bought online from data brokers.