1 of 3 | Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and his colleagues have introduced legislation, called the Know Your App Act, to protect children online by forcing app stores to display each application's country of origin. File Photo by Tom Williams/UPI | License Photo
May 30 (UPI) -- Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and two Republican colleagues have introduced legislation to increase transparency and protect children while they are online by forcing app stores to display each application's country of origin.
Scott, who is running for president in 2024; Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; and Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., introduced the Know Your App Act on Tuesday.
"Americans should be able to make informed decisions about the online services they use in order to protect their data and security. Requiring app stores to display the app's country of origin is a common-sense solution that can help them do just that," Scott, who is a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said in a statement.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, four of the five most popular apps in the United States were developed in China. Scott says the concern is that the Chinese Communist Party could compel app developers to control an app's content or user data.
"Parents shouldn't fear that their family's online privacy and security could be compromised when unknowingly using an app owned by a foreign adversary," Scott said.
The Know Your App Act would require app stores to prominently display the country where the apps are developed and owned, so users can make informed decisions.
The bill would require the Department of Treasury and the Department of Commerce to produce a list of governments that may have undue control over app content, algorithm design and user data transfers.
App stores also would be required to warn users about the risk of downloading a foreign application on any of the departments' lists and provide users with the ability to filter out certain applications.
If developers fail to provide accurate information to the app store about its country affiliation, the app store would be required to remove the application.
The legislation comes as the United States and other countries harden their stance and threaten to ban Chinese-owned TikTok. While the Biden administration has banned TikTok on government devices over national security concerns, Montana became the first state to ban the video app for residents. TikTok has filed a lawsuit against Montana, saying the state's new law is a violation of free speech.
As Scott, Wicker and Lankford introduced legislation Tuesday to extend regulation over all apps, TikTok remains front and center.
"I want the 'Made in China' label and labels for any other countries where apps like TikTok originate to be clearly marked when and where they are downloaded," Lankford, one of the sponsors of the Know Your App Act, said in a statement.
"Americans should remain free to buy items from wherever they want, but the least Big Tech can do is label where Americans' money is going when they download in the app store."