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New US Legislation Would Protect Personal Data from Foreign Adversaries

lady justice with scales and country emblems for foreign adversaries

A new law was passed on March 20, 2024 with a unanimous vote or 414-0 in the House of Representatives. The bill was introduced by Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr.

HR 7520 is a proposed law called the "Protecting Americans’ Data from Foreign Adversaries Act of 2024," aimed at stopping companies that collect and sell personal data (known as data brokers) from sharing sensitive information about people in the United States with “foreign adversary countries” defined by the Code of Federal Regulations as follows: 

The Secretary has determined that the following foreign governments or foreign non-government persons have engaged in a long-term pattern or serious instances of conduct significantly adverse to the national security of the United States or security and safety of United States persons and, therefore, constitute foreign adversaries solely for the purposes of the Executive Order, this rule, and any subsequent rule: 

(1) The People's Republic of China, including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (China); 

(2) Republic of Cuba (Cuba); 

(3) Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran); 

(4) Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea); 

(5) Russian Federation (Russia); and 

(6) Venezuelan politician Nicolás Maduro (Maduro Regime).

The law would make it illegal for data brokers to share personal details such as Social Security numbers, health and financial information, biometric data (i.e. fingerprints), and geolocation data, among other things, with these foreign adversaries.

As the enforcing authority, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could seek civil penalties of over $50,000 per violation of unfair or deceptive business practices.

If officially passed, the law would become effective 60 days later. 

In a joint statement, the two supporters of the bill stated the following: 

Today’s overwhelming vote sends a clear message that we will not allow our adversaries to undermine American national security and individual privacy by purchasing people’s personally identifiable sensitive information from data brokers. H.R. 7520 is another key step towards strengthening data protections and safeguarding our nation from foreign adversaries. 
The legislation builds on our efforts in the House last week to pass H.R. 7521—with overwhelming and bipartisan support—and serves as an important complement to more comprehensive national data privacy legislation, which we remain committed to working together on. We're encouraged by today’s strong vote, which should help build momentum to get this important bipartisan legislation, as well as more comprehensive privacy legislation, signed into law this Congress.