Biden Executive Order Restricting the Flow of Information Online Could Chill Americans’ Ability to Speak, Right to Privacy

Restrictions on the Free Flow of Information Could Limit Americans’ Choices in Selecting Online Services and Impact Researchers and Small Businesses

February 28, 2024 4:00 pm

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WASHINGTON – Today, the Biden Administration announced an Executive Order restricting the flow of information internationally. The order aims to limit large-scale transfers of information to certain foreign countries, with a particular focus on “sensitive data,” such as location data, financial records, and health information.

The American Civil Liberties Union and its affiliates have long advocated for robust privacy legislation, including protections for location data specifically, and will continue to fight for our right to privacy in the digital age. However, the ACLU is raising concerns about the vague scope of the order and the unintended consequences it could have on Americans’ ability to express themselves online. For instance, this could dictate what social media platforms Americans can use or what companies they can choose to store their online data.

“This executive order could further erode our right to share and access information without government interference, prohibit consumers from picking the online services that best meet their needs for privacy and security, and could actually end up harming privacy, rather than protecting it,” said Cody Venzke, senior policy counsel at ACLU. “Safeguarding our personal information from malicious forces — whether foreign adversaries, private companies, or our own government — must go hand in hand with preserving our right to express ourselves and access information online. To truly keep us safe online, the Biden administration should instead focus on pushing Congress to pass robust privacy legislation that stems the flood of data collected on us and embraces strong protections like encryption.”

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