The recent political controversies surrounding the downing of a Chinese spy balloon and unidentified objects floating across or near the U.S. has put foreign-own apps like TikTok in the hot seat, once again.
Attorney General of Florida, Ashley Moody has written to CEOs of Apple and Google urging them to add designation for “foreign-developed and foreign-owned mobile apps” on their app stores, especially from countries that pose a national security risk like Russia and China.
Apple should identify apps by Chinese and Russian developers for U.S. consumers
Former President Trump’s administration came down hard on the popular Chinese video-sharing app, TikTok by ByteDance. Accusing it of providing data of U.S. users to the Chinese government, President Trump wanted to place a ban on TikTok’s download in the country and forced ByteDance to sell its U.S. operations to a local company in the name of national security.
Although TikTok survived the ban and relinquishment at that time, its trouble is not over. In her letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Attorney General Moody argued that foreign-owned apps like TikTok pose a national security risk to users’ privacy and can be used to carry out covert operations in the United States.
Lamenting TikTok’s high ranking in app stores and its billions of downloads worldwide, she said that the company must add a designation for foreign-owned apps so that consumers can make informed decisions when installing apps that are owned by countries that may pose a national security risk.
“Foreign-owned applications such as TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, have been flagged by national security experts as posing a risk to both privacy and user information. In addition to data collection and unauthorized access concerns, such apps may also pose undue risks to users due to algorithmic recommendations, which can be used to carry out influence operations. Consumers cannot be expected to be aware of such risks without disclosure.
Other entities, such as Russian-headquartered software company, Pushwoosh, developed code that was found in thousands of apps in both Apple and Google’s online stores, and which were downloaded and used by the U.S. military and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Further, it is alarming that out of the top apps in Apple’s App Store [and Google’s Play Store], the top three are China-based, thus equating to hundreds of millions of downloads domestically and billions worldwide.”
Previously, a Democrat of Colorado and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Micheal Bennet also wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to remove TikTok from their app stores over national security concerns.
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