What you need to know
- Senator Josh Hawley has introduced a bill aimed at protecting data of American citizens.
- The bill seeks to prohibit American companies from storing user data or encryption keys in China.
- It would also mean Chinese acquisitions of American tech companies would require State Dept approval.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley has introduced legislation aimed at Apple and TikTok's ties with China, in particular regarding the storage and use of data.
According to Axios, the 'National Security and Personal Data Protection Act' is designed to address concerns over tech companies and their relationship with China, notably Apple and TikTok.
The bill would prevent American companies from storing user data or encryption keys in China, and it would prevent Chinese companies from collecting more information on American users than necessary to provide the service in the U.S.
.@tiktok_us doesn’t need a rebrand - it needs to sever ties with #China. My bill would prohibit the company from sharing the data it collects from us w/ Beijing. And it would require State Dept approval in the future for Chinese acquisition of American tech companies pic.twitter.com/WbYdZTamEn.@tiktok_us doesn’t need a rebrand - it needs to sever ties with #China. My bill would prohibit the company from sharing the data it collects from us w/ Beijing. And it would require State Dept approval in the future for Chinese acquisition of American tech companies pic.twitter.com/WbYdZTamEn— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) November 18, 2019November 18, 2019
TikTok has already said it stores U.S. user data in the U.S., however, Hawley seems concerned that the Chinese Communist Party could press TikTok to turn the data over:
More specifically for Apple, the legislation would stop Apple transferring any user data or encryption keys to China, it would also prohibit Apple storing any data in China, according to Axios:
Again Hawley expressed concern saying:
Bill would also stop @Apple from storing data & encryption keys in China, another major security risk for AmericansBill would also stop @Apple from storing data & encryption keys in China, another major security risk for Americans— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) November 18, 2019November 18, 2019
As 9to5Mac notes, Apple was required by law to transfer the iCloud information of its Chinese customers to government-owned servers last year. It only stores the data of Chinese iCloud accounts on government-owned servers and claims it still holds the encryption keys in-house. It seems unclear then how exactly Senator Hawley hopes his bill will protect the data of U.S. citizens, when with regards to Apple at least, there doesn't seem to be any actually held in China.
The bill reportedly names Russia as another "country of concern" that this bill would apply to. Provision is also made for the seeking of recommendations from the Secretary of State as to other countries who may pose a threat to privacy. It would also require attempts by Chinese companies to buy U.S. firms that hold data to be pre-approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
Senator Hawley is the same senator who blasted both Apple and TikTok for skipping a congressional hearing on the tech industry and its relationship with China earlier this month.
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9