Congress Seeks Answers From Google Over Accountability On Foreign Apps


Congress is now reportedly looking to address concerns about how foreign apps are handled by the Google Play Store. National Security Subcommittee Chairman Stephen Lynch is said to have reached out to Google with a letter on the matter.

The letter highlights potential issues stretching across the gamut. That's from user privacy to national security, with the Subcommittee is seeking to ensure that Google is doing enough to keep US citizens safe. To that end, it's looking for clarification pertaining to how the company is storing data. And details on how the company addresses overseas storage of and access to app data.

Congress is also seeking to understand how the company assesses the unique national security threat posed by apps. Applications, the letter points out, can provide 'adversaries' access to a lot of potentially sensitive information.


That information could ultimately be a detriment to US national security, the letter notes. Specifically, those that are 'made available' to US citizens but potentially originate from 'adversaries'. Or that store data in countries that are 'adversarial' to the US.

It's not immediately clear how Google will address concerns about foreign apps

Google will have until July 31 to respond to the inquiry. That's a similar timeframe set in place for Apple, with regard to the same questions surrounding its App Store. And Mr. Lynch was reportedly the author of that letter too. But it isn't immediately clear what actions Google or Apple might be able to take if their respective answers aren't enough to satisfy Congress.

What is clear is that the Subcommittee and leaders in Congress fully expect some form of action on Google's part with regard to foreign apps. For Google, Mr. Lynch indicates that the company 'can and must' do more. Particularly with regard to keeping US citizens safe. At a bare minimum, Congress has expressed an expectation that Google informs US citizens of the risks on the Play Store.


It's not at all unlikely that the same applies to Apple as well.

Congress is also examining the applications themselves

Now, Congress is also busying itself with investigating foreign apps. Among the more prominent of those are Tencent apps and TikTok. The former of those companies boast responsibility for developing games such as Call of Duty: Mobile and partial ownership of Fortnite.

Conversely, TikTok is facing scrutiny as well and could ultimately be banned. But that's not just from lawmakers. Amazon, for instance, recently began forcing employees to remove the app from company-owned phones as well.