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April 30 - May 1, 2025
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Is President Biden’s AI Executive Order a Game Changer for Consumer Data?

President Biden’s landmark Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of AI is ambitious but not always revolutionary. Data Universe has been looking at its potential impact on the future of customer data use and protection.

On October 30, 2023, President Biden issued a “landmark”  Executive Order (EO) on “the safe, secure, and trustworthy development and use” of artificial intelligence (AI).

The EO is intended to ensure that America is first through the door “in seizing the promise and managing the risks” of AI.

It’s certainly comprehensive, spanning more than 100 pages and weighing in on a broad range of technological and ethical areas of concern – from protecting Americans against AI-tooled bio-weapons to preventing landlords from using AI algorithms in discriminatory ways. It will both support workers and promote innovation and competition.

It’s important to note that an EO can’t create new laws, but it can kick-start the creation process. With that in mind, what might this EO mean for one of the most discussed topics in business today: how do we best deal with customer data?

Standing up for consumers

The EO is guided by eight principles and priorities, two of which will increase the heat around that most modern of commercial conundrums. And what happens here is worth watching because it will directly affect your customer experience, security and privacy choices, and related technology purchases.

The two principles in question are:

* The interests of Americans who increasingly use, interact with, or purchase AI and AI-enabled products in their daily lives must be protected. 

* Americans’ privacy and civil liberties must be protected as AI continues advancing. 

Protecting your customers’ interests

The EO states that using AI “does not excuse organizations from their legal obligations,” and “hard-won consumer protections are more important than ever in moments of technological change”.

Basically: nothing to see here. As long as your new AI solutions and intelligent agents stick to existing rules and regulations, you’re all good.

Protecting privacy

Things may change, however, under the latter principle. Here, the language is more learned, legal and specific:

“Artificial Intelligence is making it easier to extract, re-identify, link, infer, and act on sensitive information about people’s identities, locations, habits, and desires.” 

The US doesn’t have a nationwide consumer data protection legislation… Yet. But this EO at the very least centres that conversation – especially as we now know how much AI increases the risk of personal data being exploited and exposed, and given the Biden-Harris Administration’s stated aim to “strengthen United States leadership of global efforts to unlock AI’s potential and meet its challenges”.

What might such legislation look like? Logic says the landing zone will be somewhere around or between the European Union’s General Data Privacy Regulation, Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and the California Consumer Privacy Act. Plenty of businesses are already compliant, and the processes are reasonably well established. But none are without their detractors, and all come with costs.

What we do know

We know that most consumers want more control of their data and most businesses want more access to consumer data.

We know that better, stronger and more clearly explainable data privacy and security is how the latter reassures the former, ensuring both customer and commerce get what they want. It’s certainly working for Apple.

And now we have it in black and white: the Biden-Harris Administration wants every business that collects data to put equal weight on the words “protection” and “privacy” as it does “analysis” and “usage”.

Will the EO change the game for consumer data? There’s nothing that screams revolution here but, given its breadth and depth, “it is likely to have an effect on organizations across all sectors of the economy”. In it’s own softly spoken way, it just might.