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WASHINGTON — On Thursday afternoon, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted unanimously to advance the Protecting Americans’ Data from Foreign Adversaries Act of 2024 (H.R. 7520), legislation that would prevent data brokers from transferring sensitive data from people in the U.S. to governments designated as “foreign adversaries,” as well as entities these governments control.

The committee vote comes on the heels of a White House executive order, signed last week by President Joe Biden, which is designed to prevent foreign governments from accessing sensitive personal information on Americans and other people connected to the U.S. government. The order directs certain federal agencies to issue rules to protect against sharing U.S. persons’ sensitive data — including biometric, genomic and location data — with “countries of concern.” 

Free Press Action Policy Counsel Jenna Ruddock said:

“Free Press Action welcomes Congressional action to restrict data brokers’ sale of our personal data, including to foreign governments. But the Protecting Americans’ Data from Foreign Adversaries Act takes just one slice out of a much larger problem. Data brokers can still sell our data to third parties that might then sell to foreign governments, circumventing the protections advanced by this bill. Companies can also still sell our data to our own U.S. government and law enforcement agencies, circumventing Fourth Amendment warrant protections.

“Foreign interference and acquisition of people’s data is surely worrisome; so too when our own government unconstitutionally surveils individuals and entire communities. Congress should close this loophole by also passing the Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act that sailed through the House Judiciary Committee last year, establishing comprehensive restrictions on the sale of our sensitive personal data. 

“Free Press Action also continues to encourage Congress to pass comprehensive privacy legislation, like the American Data Privacy and Protection Act from the last Congress. That is ultimately what’s needed to address the pressing risks posed by the rampant and ubiquitous harvesting and monetization of our data, from location data and biometric data to online browsing histories and personal communications.”

Background: In 2023, Free Press Action released Insatiable: The Tech Industry’s Quest for All Our Data, a research report that investigates policies at new social-media platforms and calls for robust protections of the privacy rights of everyone in America. Insatiable closely examines the data-collection policies of social-media platforms that are vying to replace a faltering Twitter. It finds that unless lawmakers and regulators intervene, the persistent, unchecked and profit-driven collection of our personal data will continue to undermine users’ digital civil rights.


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