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After Russian FaceApp goes viral, Rick Scott wants online stores to say where apps came from

Not just app stores. All online retailers would have to say if they’re selling a product made outside the United States.
FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone Wednesday, July 17, 2019, in New York. The popular app is under fire for privacy concerns. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)
Published Jul. 23

Millions of people who thought they were just creating fun photos of their older selves may have unwittingly given a Russian app maker license to use their images. Sen. Rick Scott thinks he has a plan to prevent that from happening again.

The Florida Republican on Tuesday introduced a bill that would require online retailers to list the country of origin of their products. The requirement would include mobile application stores, like the ones that sold FaceApp.

FaceApp was a viral hit for a hot minute. It allowed users to create extremely realistic (in some cases) images of what they would look like as older adults. The app’s take off was followed soon after by widespread privacy concerns as news reports unearthed that the company behind the app is Russian and usage of the app granted “a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license” to use those images.

The bill extends far beyond app stores to all online retailers. Scott said consumers should know whether they’re buying products from “our adversaries." It’s essentially the online reverse of a “Made in America” sticker.

“We have to get serious about where our money is going. There are nations around the world, like China, that are trying to compete with America. By buying products made by our adversaries, we are sending them money without a second thought and supporting their efforts to compete with us on the global stage," Scott said. “Consumers should know where the products they buy online are made and where the apps they download to their phones are developed.”

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