The Biden administration has drafted an executive order that would give the judiciary tremendous power to block access to Americans’ personal data to foreign opponents, such as China, according to a source familiar with the matter and a Reuters quote.
According to the quote, the proposal, which is being reviewed by government agencies, would direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to block federal funding to help transfer U.S. health data to foreign counterparts.
The draft order reflects the Trump administration’s efforts to respond more aggressively to national security threats posed by Chinese companies that acquire US personal data, following the Trump administration’s failed bid to bar Americans from using popular social media platforms TickTock and WeChat.
Former President Donald Trump sought to ban apps in 2020 that could allow data collected by them to be given to Beijing and used to track users and censor content. China and Apps have denied any improper use of US data.
But the court stopped the implementation of the sanctions and US President Joe Biden eventually withdrew them.
Spokesmen for the White House, the Justice Department and the Commerce Department declined to comment. HHS did not respond to a request for comment.
The document is a preliminary draft that does not include input from government agencies and may change according to another person familiar with the matter.
Asked about the proposal at a press briefing on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that China believes that citizens of each country have the right to take measures to protect personal information and privacy, and relevant initiatives should be “reasonable and scientific.” .
“They should not be abandoned as a tool of individual countries to over-generate the notion of national security, abuse of national power and unreasonable suppression of certain countries and initiatives,” he said.
Sam Sacks, a senior fellow at the Paul Sai China Center at Yale Law School who examines information and communication policies, said the United States is trying to figure out how to deal with the problem.
“It is clear that the Biden administration has jumped on the bandwagon on how to deal with this new border of risk in US-China relations, which is the Chinese government’s access to Americans’ sensitive data,” Sachs said.
If implemented, the draft order would give U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland the power to review and prohibit potential commercial transactions so that they create unreasonable risks to national security if they are involved in selling or accessing data, one person said.
The proposal would also instruct HHS to begin writing a rule “to ensure that federal aid, such as grants and rewards, does not support the transfer of US individuals’ health, health-related or biological information … to companies owned by, controlled by, or foreign counterparts.” Under jurisdiction or direction, “according to a quote.
U.S. agencies have warned Chinese companies about the risk of Americans collecting personal data by investing in U.S. companies that handle sensitive healthcare information. China’s BGI bought the US genomic sequencing firm Complete Genomics in 2013, and in 2015, Chinese WuXi Pharma acquired the US firm NextCODE Health, the National Counter Intelligence and Security Center noted in a 2021 fact sheet.
The draft order comes as administration officials are frustrated with the Commerce Department for delaying legislation and threats investigations under similar powers given to that department by Trump in 2019, according to three people familiar with the process.
These powers allow the Commerce Department to prohibit or restrict transactions between US companies and Internet, telecom and technology companies from “foreign adversaries”, including Russia and China.
But so far, the department has failed to publish long-awaited rules for companies to find a safe harbor process or to announce the results of investigations by companies including Russia’s Kaspersky and China’s Alibaba, as previously reported by Reuters.
The Commerce Department was instructed in an executive order in June to use new tools to protect Americans’ sensitive data from foreign competitors through transactions involving the app, but has not made any measurement progress to the public.
The new draft order gives the judiciary “express authority to monitor and enforce compliance with any sanctions, licenses, or mitigation agreements issued under previous executive orders,” thereby upholding the authority given to the Secretary of Commerce. “
Another quote shows that it is the job of the Secretary of Commerce to decide which classes of transactions are completely prohibited and which are exempt.