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Biden Signs Executive Order Limiting Sale of Personal Data to China and Russia

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President Biden is taking a stand against the unrestricted sale of sensitive American data to foreign countries, specifically targeting China, Russia, and four more nations. In a historic move, President Biden will issue an executive order on Wednesday that seeks to prevent personally identifying information from being used for malicious purposes such as blackmail, scams, or surveillance.

The executive order will task the Justice Department with crafting rules that restrict the sale of information about Americans’ locations, health, genetics, financial information, biometric data, and other sensitive data to China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and any entities linked to these countries. The White House highlighted the risk of this data being used for blackmail, particularly targeting individuals in the military, national security community, dissidents, journalists, and academics.

This move represents the United States’ first-ever broad prohibition on the sale of digital data to specific countries, acknowledging the growing concern over the exploitation of personal data in an era where data brokers collect vast amounts of information and sell it to marketers. Countries like China and Russia have been acquiring this data through corporate relationships, raising concerns about the potential misuse of this information for surveillance and other nefarious purposes.

The executive order is part of a broader digital cold war between the United States and China, with previous actions taken to limit Chinese hardware manufacturers’ access to essential supplies and force the sale of Chinese-owned apps like TikTok. This latest move underscores the ongoing efforts to protect sensitive technology and data from foreign adversaries.

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Furthermore, the order reflects a global trend where countries are increasingly seeking to control data for their own protection and economic interests. Governments in Europe have mandated data storage within national borders for digital sovereignty, while Russia has implemented measures to block internet access entirely.

Despite the restrictions on the sale of sensitive data, officials emphasized that the United States remains committed to the free flow of data globally, with exemptions for essential activities like multinational companies handling payrolls. The executive order will initiate a rule-writing process at the Justice Department, allowing for public feedback on the proposed regulations.

In addition to restricting the sale of sensitive individual data to foreign entities, the administration is also considering a ban on the sale of genomics data and other measures to safeguard Americans’ privacy. Companies may be able to circumvent these restrictions by implementing privacy protection measures such as data encryption.

The timing of the executive order, just days before President Biden’s State of the Union address to Congress, indicates the importance of this issue for the administration. Despite these efforts, the threat of foreign entities accessing American data remains a concern, as highlighted by FBI Director Christopher A. Wray’s statement linking China to the breach of Equifax in 2017, exposing personal information of millions of Americans.

Overall, President Biden’s executive order represents a significant step towards protecting American data from exploitation and misuse by foreign actors, signaling a firm stance on safeguarding national security and individuals’ privacy in an increasingly interconnected world.

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Immigration in Maine Addressing Labor Shortage Could Set Trend for U.S.

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A significant labor gap in Maine’s lobster industry is being filled by immigrants, shedding light on the critical role that foreign-born workers are likely to play in the U.S. economy as the native-born population ages. Maine, known for its abundant lobster population, is grappling with an aging workforce that is increasingly unable to sustain the demands of the thriving lobster industry, valued at $1 billion.

Ben Conniff, a founder of Luke’s Lobster, underscores the importance of immigrants in sustaining the natural resources economy of the state, as many native-born workers are not inclined towards manufacturing work in food processing. Since its establishment in 2013, Luke’s Lobster has heavily relied on immigrants to staff its lobster processing plant, highlighting the vital role played by foreign-born workers in filling labor gaps.

With Maine boasting the oldest population in the U.S., with a median age of 45.1, the state offers a glimpse into the economic future of America, where immigrants are poised to be a crucial source of new workers and economic vitality in the coming years.

As immigration continues to be a hotly debated topic in the country, the influx of immigrants has been instrumental in boosting the American economy’s potential. The Congressional Budget Office has revised upwards its population and economic growth projections for the next decade, attributing the growth to the wave of newcomers entering the workforce.

Maine’s initiatives to attract and integrate immigrants into the workforce, such as the creation of an Office of New Americans, reflect the state’s proactive approach towards addressing labor shortages. Private companies like Luke’s Lobster have also taken steps to diversify and supplement the aging lobster fishing industry by training immigrants and minorities in lobster fishing and licensing processes.

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Chadai Gatembo, an 18-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, exemplifies the success story of immigrants finding opportunities in Maine. Despite facing challenges on his journey to the U.S., Gatembo is now on the path to becoming a full-fledged lobsterman, showcasing the potential for immigrants to thrive in new industries.

The influx of immigrants is not without its challenges, with issues of work authorization and economic stability confronting many newcomers. Adriana Hernandez, a mother of four from Venezuela, highlights the economic hardship faced by immigrants awaiting work permits, underscoring the barriers faced by unauthorized workers in integrating into the labor market.

Despite these challenges, the overall impact of immigration on the U.S. economy is significant. Immigrants have helped to bolster job growth, insulate the economy against downturns, and contribute to a more diverse and innovative workforce. Economists predict that immigration will play a crucial role in addressing labor shortages and demographic shifts as the native-born population ages.

The entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants like Chenda Chamreoun, who has risen from lobster cleaning to a quality assurance supervisor and now aims to start her own catering business, showcases the economic potential of foreign-born workers. Immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial, adding to the innovation and productivity of the American economy.

J. Edward Moreno contributed reporting from New York, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Washington.

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