Senator Marco Rubio Pushes Legislation Seeking More Restrictions on Apps Such as WeChat, TikTok

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has proposed legislation that would add more restrictions and tougher standards of foreign software deployed in the United States. Rubio, who a few months ago called on President Trump to take a deeper look at Tencent Holdings’ QQ program, specifically named Tencent-owned multi-purpose chat app WeChat and short-form video app TikTok.

The legislation, the “Adversarial Platform Prevention Act,” would create a set of standards that would require software owned by foreign entities to adhere to a new and stronger set of standards related to data protection and censorship. The bill would also add warning labels to the software and require “annual public disclosures” from the companies that operate them in the U.S. 

According to the language of the bill, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice would “issue regulations requiring an owner of covered foreign software to implement consumer data protection measures to ensure that any parent company in a covered country may not access the consumer data collected and stored, or otherwise held, by a subsidiary in the United States.”

Rubio’s bill has made its way to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and is awaiting further approval and support from other senators.. While China is mentioned, this legislation would also affect other countries such as Cuba, Russia and Venezuela.

The bill has the potential to affect not only app makers such as ByteDance and Tencent, but companies that are wholly-owned but U.S.-based like League of Legends and Valorant maker Riot Games.

This bill is the latest in a series of actions by the Trump administration and politicians looking to control Chinese-owned apps and software being used within the United States in the name of “national security.” Rubio’s new bill adds a new focus – anti-censorship, or rather, not supporting governments that are deemed repressive against their own people.