Call it paranoia or just playing it safe, but it looks like the U.S. government’s suspicion over Chinese companies getting a hold of U.S. information is far from over. The chairman of a congressional panel is now asking Google (and Apple as well) if it’s part of their policy to ask app developers to disclose their ties to foreign governments. This follows several reports of Chinese companies making investments in popular apps and possibly acquiring information about U.S. citizens in the process.
According to a Reuters article, Representative Stephen Lynch, the chairman of a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee sent letters to both Google and Apple. He wants both companies to tell Congress if they require the app developers to disclose if they have any non-U.S. ties. This is still part of the government’s issues with Chinese companies as the trade war between the two economic superpowers continues.
TikTok, one of the most popular apps now among kids and teenagers, is actually owned by a Chinese technology company called ByteDance. The app has been under close scrutiny from the Interagency Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) to the point now that the company has increased efforts in separating the app operations from its parent company. Another app that has been under scrutiny is gay dating app Grindr, owned by Beijing Kunlun and may soon be sold to allay national security concerns.
CFIUS wants assurances from those involved that the personal data being saved on TikTok and probably other apps is being stored securely in the U.S. and will not be accessed by the Chinese government. They say that there have been some reports that some foreign companies are giving U.S. citizens’ data to their host governments. So far, there has not been any solid proof that this is happening but the U.S. government is adamant about this.
Both Google and Apple have not responded so far to the letter or to requests for comment. We may probably here from either or both over the next few days, especially if there is added pressure from Congress.