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USA: White House announces Executive Order to protect sensitive personal data

On February 28, 2024, the White House announced an Executive Order to Protect Americans' Sensitive Personal Data (EO). In particular, the White House highlighted that the EO will focus on personal and sensitive information, including genomic, biometric, personal health, geolocation, and financial data, alongside certain kinds of personally identifiable information. The White House outlined concerns over the sale of Americans' data through data brokers to countries of concern, and the subsequent risks to privacy, counterintelligence, blackmail, and security.

What is included in the EO?

Specifically, the EO will direct the Department of Justice to issue regulations that establish:

  • clear protections for Americans' sensitive personal data from access and exploitation by countries of concern; and
  • greater protection for sensitive government-related data, including geolocation information on sensitive government sites and information about military members.

Aiming to prevent the large-scale transfer of data to countries that have a track record of collecting and misusing Americans' data, the EO will also direct the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to work together to set high-security standards to prevent access to data through other commercial means, including data available through investment, vendor, and employment relationships. On the other hand, the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Defense, and Veterans Affairs are directed to ensure that federal grants, contracts, and awards are not used to facilitate access to Americans' sensitive health data. Notably, the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector is directed to consider threats to sensitive personal data in submarine cable licenses.

Finally, the White House clarified that the EO is not intended to stop the flow of information necessary for financial services activities or impose measures aimed at broader decoupling of relationships the US maintains.

You can read the press release here.