Affiliate Disclosure
If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Read our ethics policy.

Bizarre bill proposed to prevent Chinese currency 'spying' on US

Senators who claim that Americans are at risk of somehow buying apps using China's digital yuan currency, have introduced a bill to show they're doing something about it.

Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Mike Braun (R-IN) have launched the Defending Americans from Authoritarian Digital Currencies Act, which would prevent app stores hosting apps that use China's digital yuan currency,

"The Chinese Communist Party will use its digital currency to control and spy on anyone who uses it," insists Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) in a statement. "We can't give China that chance— the United States should reject China's attempt to undermine our economy at its most basic level."

"It makes no sense to tie ourselves to the digital currency of a genocidal regime that hates us and wants to replace us on the world stage," Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said in the same statement. "This is a major financial and surveillance risk that the United States cannot afford to make."

"The Chinese Communist Party's digital yuan allows direct control and access to the financial lives of individuals," explains Senator Mike Braun (R-Indiana). "We cannot allow this authoritarian regime to use their state-controlled digital currency as an instrument to infiltrate our economy and the private information of American citizens."

The full bill runs to fewer than 400 words and entirely fails to explain the reasoning behind its claims.

AppleInsider analysis

This bill is aimed specifically at protecting Americans who somehow use this digital yuan currency to buy apps from Apple's App Store or the Google Play Store from within the US. It presumably also covers in-app purchases, and it's reasonable to presume that there is a great deal of financial activity in this currency — in China.

Whether in China or the US, however, any individual's app or in-app purchase goes to Apple and Google. Whether the app advertises it in digital yuan or US dollars, the transaction goes via these two companies.

While the digital yuan is on China's version of the blockchain, it's still not clear how the Senators believe that China could determine an individual US citizen's financial situation, even if that citizen were somehow able to buy from the Apple's Chinese version of the App Store. More data can be gleaned about a customer by IP address, and browsing habits.

This could be another example of how so many in the US government are considering and passing laws that drastically affect technology firms, while exhibiting extraordinary ignorance of the issues.

However, it's more likely that the bill is just grandstanding, showing an electorate that politicians are doing something. Expect more of this on the road to the November midterms.