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Senators introduce bipartisan bill to mandate digital apps disclose country of origin

Senators introduce bipartisan bill to mandate digital apps disclose country of origin
© Bonnie Cash

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoDemocratic Senate campaign arm outraises GOP counterpart in September Hillicon Valley: DOJ proposes tech liability shield reform to Congress | Treasury sanctions individuals, groups tied to Russian malign influence activities | House Republican introduces bill to set standards for self-driving cars Senators introduce bipartisan bill to mandate digital apps disclose country of origin MORE (D-Nev.) introduced a bill Wednesday that would mandate digital apps to list their country of origin.

The legislation, titled the American Privacy Protection (APP) Act, would require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to direct companies to release where the app was created and where data collected by the app is stored. 

Scott said in a press release that the legislation comes amid security concerns about apps made by adversaries to the U.S., listing China and Russia as examples. 

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"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 continued. “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.”

The legislation comes after President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE issued an order to require U.S. app stores stop offering Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat beginning last Sunday. Both apps managed to avoid a ban for now after TikTok reached an agreement with Walmart and Oracle, and a judge temporarily blocked the restriction of WeChat. 

Previously, Trump signed a restrictive executive order stating that TikTok be bought by a U.S. company within 45 days or be banned from the country. 

Cortez Masto added in a statement that the bill intends to inform users about the apps on their phone and where their information is going.

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“As smart phones 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,” she said. 

Scott and Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne Baldwin Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing Baldwin calls for Senate hearing on CDC response to meatpacking plant coronavirus outbreak Democrats demand answers from Labor Department on CDC recommendations for meatpacking plant MORE (D-Wis.) also introduced a bill earlier this year that would require all products sold online to be accompanied by the country of origin of the company. 

TikTok’s deal announced last weekend would give Oracle a 12.5 percent ownership stake and Walmart a 7.5 percent ownership stake in the app.

The president said he’d approve the deal but suggested in a Monday interview that the agreement might not hold up if U.S. companies don’t obtain full control of the app.