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Lankford Pushes to Increase Transparency, Better Protect Children Online

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the Know Your App Act to increase transparency and provide parents with information to protect their children online in making informed decisions. The bill would require online app stores to display the country where apps are developed and owned.

“Seeing ‘Made in China’ on nearly any product nowadays is frustrating to Oklahomans trying their best not to prop up the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese government with their hard-earned money,” said Lankford. “We already see the ways the TikTok app is a dangerous extension of the CCP that is collecting every user’s personal data and all of their contacts. 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. 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.”

“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 an app’s country of origin is a common-sense solution that can help them do just that,” said Scott. “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.”

“Our adversaries will exploit every available tool, including popular apps that gather huge amounts of data on Americans, to gain an advantage over the United States,” Wicker said. “It is crucial for users to take steps to limit their exposure and be made aware of the risks associated with using foreign-controlled apps. The Know Your App Act would bring much-needed transparency to app stores, empowering Americans to safeguard their families from exploitation.”

BACKGROUND

As of March, four of the five most popular apps in the US were developed in China. This is particularly concerning given that China’s national security laws provide a pathway for the Chinese Communist Party to compel application developers to control an application’s content or user data.

The Know Your App Act responds to this risk by requiring online app stores to prominently display the country where apps are developed and owned, allowing users to make informed decisions about the applications they access. The bill also requires the Departments of Treasury and Commerce to produce a list of adversarial governments that may have undue control over application content moderation, algorithm design, or user data transfers. App stores would be required to provide users the ability to filter out applications from the identified adversarial countries and warn users about the risk of downloading one of the foreign applications on these lists. If a developer fails to provide sufficient information to the app store about its country affiliation, the app store would be required to issue multiple warnings over a designated period. If the developer still refused to comply, the app store would be required to remove the app from its store.

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