Bipartisan Senate Bill Will Require Digital App Companies to be Transparent about Country of Origin

September 24, 2020 Updated: September 24, 2020

Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) unveiled legislation on Wednesday that would require digital app companies to list their country of origin.

The American Privacy Protection (APP) Act will require that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ensure that all companies that release applications reveal the country of origin and where data collected by the smartphone app is stored.

“Apps backed by our adversaries, including TikTok and WeChat, pose huge security risks to Americans’ data and security,” Scott said.

“American consumers should know where the apps they download are created, and where the data being collected is stored,” he added. “I’m proud to join Senator Cortez Masto today to introduce the APP Act and make sure Americans have the information available to protect themselves from this risk.”

Cortez Masto in a written statement said that the bill was crafted at a time of heightened security concerns about apps made by countries that have not been transparent with the United States, naming China and Russia as examples.

“As smartphones play a bigger role in Nevadans’ everyday lives, consumers are increasingly sharing their personal data with unknown app developers — sometimes with companies in Russia, China or elsewhere, that might share Nevadans’ personal data with those governments,” Cortez Masto said.

The senators’ bill comes after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to require U.S. app providers to stop offering China-based apps TikTok and WeChat.

Trump in September approved a partnership deal in principle that would allow TikTok to operate in the United States after signing an order for China’s ByteDance to divest the video app.

“I have given the deal my blessing,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Sept. 20 before departing for a campaign rally in North Carolina. “I approved the deal in concept.”

In August, Trump signed an executive order requiring that TikTok be bought by a U.S. company within 45 days or be banned from the United States.

In 2019 Scott teamed up with Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to introduce a resolution encouraging Americans to buy made-in-America products to support the American economy, and help strengthen the U.S. supply chain.

Scott has been vocal about the Chinese Communist Party’s malicious intent toward the United States and the security risks attached to doing business with the economic giant. The senator has gone so far as to say that the United States should stop all business ties with the country.

In February Scott wrote in an August press statement, “Stop buying anything made in China. De-list Chinese companies from stock exchanges. Re-shore the supply chain and support American jobs. Indicate products’ place of origin for online shoppers. Refuse to publish Chinese propaganda in newspapers. Reevaluate relationships with Chinese researchers at universities and hospitals. Cancel travel plans to China. Cut ties with Confucius Institutes at universities.”

Eva Fu contributed to this article.