- The Washington Times - Monday, February 6, 2023

House lawmakers have three bills in the hopper that would make Chinese data security threats to your smartphone as obvious as a spy balloon flying overhead.

House Energy and Commerce Committee lawmakers on Tuesday will consider a trio of bipartisan proposals to make China‘s presence known on the device in your pocket.

Reps. Jeff Duncan, South Carolina Republican; Scott Perry, Pennsylvania Republican; and Marcy Kaptur, Ohio Democrat, wrote a bill to force anyone who maintains a website or distributes a mobile app with information stored in China to disclose the data storage. The Federal Trade Commission is charged with enforcing the disclosure requirement.

Mr. Duncan said he is optimistic that the Telling Everyone the Location of Data Leaving the U.S. Act, or TELL Act, will pass the House.

“The TELL Act will hold Communist China accountable and send a powerful message that they can no longer exploit our security or harvest American data,” Mr. Duncan said in a statement introducing the bill last week. “The TELL Act pushes back against China‘s use of state-controlled entities to infringe on Americans’ data privacy and takes necessary steps to safeguard data security while hindering the CCP.”

Ms. Kaptur said the legislation was needed to ensure Americans know when China compromises their data.

“The American people should not be at risk for exploitation by China or CCP state-aligned companies mining their data,” Ms. Kaptur said in a statement. “In the 21st century, we have to ensure that our people know who has access to their data, and actively work to safeguard protections defending personal information from our adversaries.”

A second proposal was crafted by Reps. Kat Cammack, Florida Republican, and Darren Soto, Florida Democrat, to require anyone selling or distributing a mobile app to disclose if that app is banned from government devices to anyone using the app.

President Biden signed the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act” into law last year. Ms. Cammack’s office said her new bill was written with TikTok in mind.

A maximum penalty of $46,517 per violation enforced by the FTC would hit anyone failing to meet the obligations under the lawmakers’ Chinese-owned Applications Using The Information of Our Nation Act or CAUTION Act.

The third proposal, which also has TikTok directly in its crosshairs, is the Internet Application Integrity and Disclosure Act, written by Reps. Russ Fulcher, Idaho Republican, and Chris Pappas, New Hampshire Democrat.

The bill would force any entity owned by someone in China or by the Chinese Communist Party directly to disclose the Chinese connection, with the FTC tasked with enforcing the law. China‘s policies of civil-military fusion force companies to work with the country’s communist regime.

TikTok is owned by the China-founded ByteDance, though it is working on making changes to its U.S. operation to address governmental concerns. The platform has plans to create a new entity called TikTok U.S. Data Security, which a TikTok official last week said would be governed by a three-member board of directors approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

CFIUS is an organization of federal agencies that review commercial transactions for national security problems led by the Treasury Department. The Biden administration has maintained the national security review of TikTok started under the Trump administration.

TikTok did not respond to a request for comment about the lawmakers’ proposals.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee‘s innovation, data, and commerce subcommittee will review the three proposals on Tuesday and has made American competitiveness in the tech sector opposite China a priority.

At a subcommittee panel meeting last week, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Washington Republican, said lawmakers must use the panel to write rules ensuring America is in charge of guidelines for future tech instead of China.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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