US Senate bill would ban app stores from hosting apps that accept Chinese digital yuan

Afraid of being spied on by China, US senators hope to ban apps that accept Beijing’s digital yuan. Senators introduced the bill on Thursday, which could affect both Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store, among other things.

The digital yuan could be used to spy on customers

Republican Senators Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Mike Braun sponsored the bill. Cotton’s office, addressing Reutersclaims that China’s digital yuan could enable the communist nation to spy on americans. They fear the digital currency will give Beijing the ability to spy on Americans. Supposedly, the digital yuan offers “real-time visibility into all network transactions.”

This could, they say, pose privacy and security concerns for Americans using digital currency.

At least one security-based think tank agrees. The DC-based Center for a New American Security reported in January 2021 that the digital yuan would help Chinese surveillance. Transactions using the currency include “accurate data about users and their financial activity.”

Senate Bill Aims to Block China’s Use of Digital Currency in the US

The recently introduced bill hopes to limit the amount of digital yuan consumers could use for payments in the United States. It prevents companies from hosting applications “that support or enable e-CNY transactions”.

WeChat, a Chinese messaging and payment app, recently announced that it will start supporting the currency. The Alipay payment app, owned by Jack Ma’s Ant Group, also accepts currency.

Both WeChat and Alipay are available for download on the App Store. Under former President Donald Trump, WeChat was once banned from US app stores, but those days are over.

The Chinese Embassy in DC denounced the legislation. He described the bill as the United States “needlessly intimidating foreign companies into abusing state power for the untenable motive of national security.”

Stopping potential national security threats from China is one of the few things Republicans and Democrats actually agree on. That could help the bill pass through a deeply divided Congress. Again, the midterm elections are approaching. That naturally makes it difficult to say which way the tides might turn on this bill.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Norman D. Briggs