Florida Attorney General Wants to Warn iOS and Android Users Which Apps Are Foreign-Owned

Concerned about national security risks, Florida Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody suggests that Apple and Google flag apps developed and/or owned by foreign companies. Moody sent letters (via AppleInsider) to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook, suggesting that a special icon or label should accompany Android and iOS apps made by a company outside the US became or belong to him.

Of course, Moody’s letter pointed to the one foreign-owned app that many fear, TikTok. The short form video app is among the top titles installed on Android and iOS devices every year. It’s owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance, and Moody notes that the app “has been flagged as a risk to privacy and user information by national security experts.”

There are concerns that TikTok may track the keystrokes that users type on its in-app keyboard, allowing ByteDance to steal users’ personal information related to the TikTok app. In her letter to Apple and Google, Moody mentions the high-flying Chinese spy balloons recently launched from the sky by the US military. She says such events underscore the need to add extra protection to mobile applications.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody wants a special label to alert iOS and Android users to foreign-owned apps

AG Moody writes: “We need to ensure consumers have the information they need to make informed decisions about their privacy and security. The existing lack of transparency in app stores can pose a significant risk to American citizens and lead to their personal information being exploited by affected foreign companies.” She added, “It is also alarming that from the top apps in Apple’s App Store is not owned [and Google’s Play Store]the top three are based in China, which equates to hundreds of millions of downloads domestically and billions worldwide.”

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States like Maryland, Texas, South Dakota and Oklahoma have banned TikTok on government devices and the House of Representatives has ordered the removal of TikTok on phones used by lawmakers and employees. Another incident that worries Moody is the discovery of Russian company Pushwoosh’s code found in thousands of App Store apps, including those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Army.

Moody’s letter added that “Consumers deserve the highest level of transparency when deciding to download an application onto their phone.