For all of Web3’s successes in celebrating diversity and raising funds for unquestionably noble causes, the Web3 space still has its fair share of bugbears — scammers. Thefts, rug pulls, and the like remain a distinct risk for anyone making their first steps into Web3.
However, these bad actors don’t just look to target members of the crypto and NFT communities on their home turf via wash trades. Some have looked to gain access to users’ crypto wallets in a seemingly innocent way: via mobile apps. The lengths that scammers have gone to forcibly part users from their hard-earned crypto and NFTs is worth noting, since a new flavor of the age-old phishing scam has been victimizing newcomers and veterans of the NFT and crypto spaces.
What’s concerning is the seeming lack of active concern from companies running the app marketplaces, which is where you buy crucial apps like crypto wallets. This problem has gotten so out of hand that U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown has addressed letters to both Google and Apple’s CEOs, calling for improved regulatory practices to help keep users safe from these malicious apps. These two mega-companies serve billions of customers combined via their app stores, and Senator Brown believes that direct measures on their end should take the utmost precedence.
In his letters, Brown asked a set of questions to gauge their commitment to removing these apps from their marketplaces. In these questions, Brown has asked the two tech giants to detail their measures on how they vet crypto apps that explicitly request placement on their marketplaces, in addition to the steps the two companies take in ensuring apps that show up on their marketplaces don’t “[circumvent] app store policies by transforming into phishing apps,” Brown said.
Brown is giving the two tech giant CEOs until August 10 to respond, highlighting that this issue stands to harm the wider tech-enabled world and not just those who’ve gone Web3. This news follows similar measures taken by the IRS and SEC in pushing for greater regulatory measures to be taken within the NFT and crypto spaces. And, with the SEC’s recently opened investigation into Coinbase following its welcoming of 100 new and tradeable tokens for its user base, we might be on the path there.