U.S. Congressman asks Apple, Google if apps like TikTok and Grindr must disclose foreign ties

On Friday, the chair of a congressional panel wrote letters to Apple and Google to ask what, if any, disclosures are mobile apps required to make regarding overseas ties, a concern that follows reports of Chinese investment in popular apps like TikTok and Grindr.


Rep. Stephen Lynch, the chairman of a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, said in a statement that he had asked both Google and Apple to inform Congress whether they required app developers to disclose any non-U.S. ties.

TikTok, which is wildly popular with teenagers, is owned by the Chinese technology company ByteDance. In a related matter, the Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd has said it would sell popular gay dating app Grindr Inc by June 2020 because of U.S. national security concerns.

“Recent press reports have shed light on allegations that certain foreign companies and developers may be providing sensitive data on U.S. citizens via their mobile applications to their host governments, thereby creating significant national security risks,” Lynch wrote in similar letters to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

MacDailyNews Take: In early November, the U.S. government reportedly launched a national security review of TikTok owner ByteDance’s $1 billion acquisition of U.S. social media app Musical.ly. U.S. lawmakers have been calling in recent months for a national security probe into TikTok, over concerns that the Chinese company may be censoring politically sensitive content while raising questions about how ByteDance stores personal data.


  1. There is also the issue that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits companies doing business with the public from discriminating on the basis of nationality. The Administration has announced its intent to use that provision against entities that refuse to do business with the State of Israel. Even if Apple collected the information, it could not use it against the Chinese companies without specific legal authorization (like the statute that prohibits hiring undocumented workers).

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