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A Big Defeat for Big Tech

Tech companies know that if there is an open, democratic debate about data security, consumers’ concerns about digital safeguards will win out. And while the industry's lobbyists tried to ensure that no such debate could ever occur, one of their more cynical moves has now been exposed and thwarted.

NEW YORK – Last year, US President Joe Biden’s administration infuriated lobbyists representing Big Tech firms and others that profit from our personal data by denouncing a proposal that would have gutted domestic data privacy, online civil rights and liberties, and competition safeguards. Now, Biden’s new executive order on Americans’ data security reveals that the lobbyists had good reason to worry.

After decades of data brokers and tech platforms exploiting Americans’ personal data without any oversight or restrictions, the Biden administration has announced that it will ban the transfer of certain kinds of data to China and other countries of concern. It is a small, but important, step toward protecting Americans’ sensitive personal information, in addition to government-related data.

Moreover, the order is likely a precursor to additional policy responses. Americans are rightly worried about what is happening online, and their concerns extend well beyond privacy violations to a host of other digital harms, such as mis- and disinformation, social media-induced teenage anxiety, and racial incitement.