Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon highlights proposed legislation targeting international bad actors.

Congress is considering new legislation that would require warning labels on smartphone applications made in countries the United States deems a national security threat, including China, Russia, and Iran.

The legislation spearheaded by Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, would require app store operators to inform Americans before they download an application that could surreptitiously collect their data and send it to an enemy state.

“This bill will help inform us as to what exactly we’re agreeing to when we hit the download button on some apps on the app store,” Banks told the Washington Free Beacon. “If an app is being used by a foreign government to take advantage of us, we need to be informed.”

Data harvesting threatens anyone who uses a smartphone. Applications routinely siphon off data and send it to servers hosted in foreign countries. Any app produced by a hostile regime could pose a significant risk to American users.

Banks’s bill calls out “China, Russia, Venezuela, Syria, Sudan, Iran, and North Korea, and any other country that is designated as a source of dangerous software by an expert or has provided support for international terrorism,” according to information provided by the lawmaker’s office.

Any American who downloads an application produced in one of these countries would be presented with a warning message. The user would then have to acknowledge the possibility his or her data may be abused before downloading the app in question.

This warning label would be separate from any other agreements the user must navigate prior to downloading the application, according to the bill. The Federal Trade Commission would be in charge of enforcing the new requirements.

This legislation is emerging in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow Carolina Journal Online’s continuing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic here.