SOUTH CAROLINA (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A new bill in the U.S. Senate could require smartphone apps to list their country of origin.
The bill, known as the “Know Your App Act,” was introduced by Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) and two others.
It would require disclosures on the likes of the Apple App Store and Google Play, along with disclosures that applications from countries “of concern” note that “data from that application could be accessed by a foreign government.”
“I think a lot of people are clueless about where their data sits on these apps,” said Tom Blanchard with Sterling Technology Solutions in Charlotte, which deals in IT and cybersecurity issues. “People just don’t think about it when they tap that button to download the app. Some countries don’t have the same rules that we do.”
For now, the only way to look up an app’s country of origin is through research. Companies that make the apps are clearly listed on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.
“TikTok is obviously the first one that comes to mind, but there are other apps,” said Sen. Scott.
Scott said the information would allow users to ultimately decide whether or not to download a certain app to their phones.
However, Blanchard has additional questions about what is not explicitly said in the legislation — namely, apps that may be connected to one country but with servers in another.
Google and Apple have not responded to media requests for comment on the bill.
Senator Tim Scott’s office sent Queen City News this statement on Thursday:
“The bill is focused on the software development and application ownership, requiring disclosure relating to the Country of Origin of the beneficial owner and developer of the application.
The Country of Origin is the country in which the developer is headquartered or principally operates. The term ‘‘developer’’ means a person that creates, owns, or controls an application and is responsible for the design, development, maintenance, and distribution of the application to end users through an application store.
We welcome the input and feedback of stakeholders on our bill, as we move forward in our efforts to ensure Americans have transparency in making informed decisions about the online services they use.”