US plans bill to restrict Google, Apple from hosting apps that accept China’s digital currency

According to a draft of proposed legislation viewed by the media, Republican Senators want to prohibit U.S. app shops such as Apple and Google from hosting apps that allow payments to be made in China’s digital currency, citing concerns that the payment system may allow Beijing to eavesdrop on Americans.

Companies who own or operate app shops “must not carry or promote any app in [their] app store(s) within the United States that supports or allows transactions in e-CNY,” according to a bill introduced by Senators Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, and Mike Braun on Thursday.

Digital yuan, according to Cotton’s office, may provide the Chinese government “real-time insight into all transactions on the network, raising privacy and security issues for Americans who join this network.”

In a January 2021 report, the Center for a New American Security, based in Washington, D.C., said China’s digital currency and electronic payments system was “likely to be a boon for CCP surveillance in the economy and government interference in the lives of Chinese citizens,” noting that “transactions will contain precise data about users and their financial activity.”

Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Ant Group, Tencent, and the Chinese embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment immediately.

The decision comes after Tencent’s WeChat, a messaging and payment service with over 1.2 billion users, said earlier this year that it will embrace the currency. The digital money is also accepted by Alipay, a major payment app owned by Jack Ma’s Ant Group. Both apps are accessible in the App Stores for Apple and Google.

While blocking possible national security threats from China is a rare area of bipartisan agreement in the bitterly divided US Congress, the bill’s chances of passing before the November elections are questionable.

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