Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., introduced legislation today that would warn consumers before they download an app from countries that “pose a national security risk.”

Under the legislation, the warning would read ‘‘Warning: [Name of Covered Foreign Software] is developed by [Name of Developer of Covered Foreign Software], which [is controlled by a company that] [is organized under the laws of]/[conducts its principal operations in]/[is organized under the laws of and conducts its principal operations in] [Name of Covered Country]. Please acknowledge by selecting the ‘accept’ or ‘decline’ button below if you wish to proceed.’’

In a statement, Banks cited apps such as China’s TikTok and Russia’s FaceApp as the impetus behind his legislation.

“Celebrities, families, and teens have flocked to mega-popular app TikTok during COVID-19 lockdowns, but the Department of Defense has previously warned people not to use the app citing national security concerns,” Banks’ office said in a statement.

“Some phone apps are fun and useful, others are counterintelligence threats,” Banks said. “Americans should know which is which before they hit the download button. Parents and consumers have a right to a warning that by downloading some apps … their data may be used against the United States by an adversarial or enemy regime.”

The bill identifies China, Russia, Venezuela, Syria, Sudan, Iran, and North Korea as countries posing a national security risk, but leaves the door open for adding additional countries that are “designated as a source of dangerous software by an expert or has provided support for international terrorism.”

The legislation does not appear to have a companion bill in the Senate.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.