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AAG Olsen Advises Companies to Safeguard Sensitive Data

Mark Ong Thomson

AAG Olsen Advises Companies to Safeguard Sensitive Data
ColorBlind via Getty Images

On February 28, 2024, President Joe Biden announced his Executive Order on Preventing Access to Americans’ Bulk Sensitive Personal Data and United States Government–Related Data by Countries of Concern. Shortly thereafter, in a March 8, 2024, speech at the American Bar Association’s 39th National Institute on White Collar Crime, Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen explained that this order will make it illegal to sell certain data to foreign countries or share it without appropriate safeguards.

He advised companies that, to avoid potential criminal or civil liability, they should proactively take the following steps to protect sensitive personal customer data:

  • Companies should understand what data they have and what safeguards they have in place to ensure that the data is not misused.
  • Companies should review their existing agreements to see where their data is going.
  • Companies should be aware of who has access to their data.
  • Companies should take a closer look at their transactions that involve the transfer of data.

Olsen explained that companies are on the front lines of protecting the country from foreign countries that want to acquire Americans’ personal data by purchasing it or accessing it through deliberate investments and business relationships. He also warned that “when corporations and their executives break laws that protect national security, [the DOJ does] not hesitate to use the full range of [its] authorities to hold them accountable.”