Florida Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody wants Apple and Google to label foreign-owned apps on iPhone and Android as they pose a potential national security risk.
In letters she sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, citing national security, Moody urges companies to notify customers if they download an app owned or developed by a foreign company became.
“We need to ensure consumers have the information they need to make informed decisions about their privacy and security,” Moody said in a letter to Apple and Google. “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 worrying foreign companies.”
As an example, Moody pointed to TikTok, a social media app owned by a Chinese company. Moody noted that it “has been flagged as a risk to privacy and user information by national security experts.”
Another example is Pushwoosh, a Russian company that created code found in thousands of apps on the App Store, including those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Army.
“Also, it’s alarming that out of the top apps in Apple’s App Store [and Google’s Play Store]the top three are based in China, which equates to hundreds of millions of downloads domestically and billions worldwide,” Moody added.
It’s not exactly clear where Moody places her labeling line. Her letter cites foreign-owned apps, which could mean any app developed and distributed by companies or individuals outside of the US, but her examples come exclusively from China.
Currently, Apple’s App Store identifies the developer and includes links to a website. The developer’s nationality is not listed on the App Store page, but is generally available when users click through to the website in question.
Several states have already banned TikTok on government devices, including Maryland, Texas, South Dakota, and Oklahoma. The House of Representatives also ordered employees and lawmakers to uninstall TikTok from their devices.
The US government has banned TikTok from state-owned devices. On the part of the federal government, they also want to be completely removed from the App Store, which, however, does not yet have to be ordered by law.
However, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr believes a statewide ban is inevitable. “I don’t think there’s a way forward for anything other than a ban,” Carr said in a November interview. He believes the data could be used to covertly influence political processes in the United States, potentially to the benefit of the Chinese government.