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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

A short section of President Trump's immigration executive order that tells agencies "ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information" is drawing attention in tech circles.

Why privacy hawks are worried:

  • Nuala O'Connor, the head of the Center for Democracy and Technology, said that the order sends the message that "people who don't hold a U.S. passport or current green card are not entitled to the same dignity as those of us who do."
  • It raises questions about the United States' broader approach to protecting the data of non-citizens.

The bigger picture: The order has worried some in Europe, where recent revelations about American tech companies working with the government surveillance regime have caused officials to be wary of Silicon Valley. It also raises questions about the fate of the US-EU Privacy Shield agreement governing the transatlantic transfer of data.

Hold your horses: A European Commission spokesperson told TechCruch that the Privacy Shield agreement "does not rely on the protections under the U.S. Privacy Act." But the body has promised to keep an eye on the issue.

Update: Ken Propp, a director at software trade group BSA, says that the executive order "should not affect the privacy protections afforded under the US-EU Privacy Shield," and cited the agreement's grounding in a law called the Judicial Redress Act.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

3 hours ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.

Trump pardons Michael Flynn

President Trump with Michael Flynn in 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with a former Russian ambassador.

Why it matters: It is the first of multiple pardons expected in the coming weeks, as Axios scooped Tuesday night.