Congress formally asks Apple to put pressure on foreign app developers
Congress wants full disclosure on data storage from app developers.
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The United States government has increased pressure on apps made by foreign developers in recent months. Most notably, the government has considered banning TikTok in the country because of its Chinese origin.
Now, Congress has drafted a letter formally asking that Apple and Google demand foreign developers to disclose where data from United States consumers is being stored. Reported by Gizmodo, Stephen Lynch, Chairman of the National Security Subcommittee, expressed concern over the storage of data on foreign soil, whether the developer be from a foreign country or even the United States.
“At a minimum,” he wrote, the two companies “should take steps to ensure that users are aware of the potential privacy and national security risks of sharing sensitive information with applications that store data in countries adversarial to the United States, or whose developers are subsidiaries of overseas companies.”
Lynch says that neither Apple or Google have provided a reason not to require developers to disclose this information. The committee has given each company until the end of the month to respond to the letters.
In the letter, Lynch pointed out that since he last floated the idea to Apple and Google back in January, neither company could name any “statutory or regulatory limitations” that would keep either of them from requiring devs to name countries where their data will be stored. He closed both of these letters by asking each of them whether they’d commit to this sort of mandate for their devs and whether they’d make this information available for the people browsing and downloading off their respective platforms, and gave each of them until the month’s end to respond. Gizmodo reached out to both companies for comment but did not receive an immediate reply.
At WWDC, Apple announced a number of new privacy features designed to provide transparency to consumers about what data the apps they were using are collecting. What country the data is being stored, however, was not part of the features Apple announced. If Apple complies with the request from Congress, it could theoretically add this to the list of disclosures it requires from developers before iOS 14 releases to the public this fall.