As someone who covered the TikTok saga during the final days of the Trump presidency, I must confess that I had some skepticism about the former president and his people’s belief that a popular short-video app among teenagers was actually a stealth tool used by Chinese Communists to spy on Americans.
Brendan Carr, Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, told me of revelations that appear to confirm the worst fears of Trump and his national security team about the app and how it is being used by China to collect data on US citizens in order to spy on us. .
In 2020 Trump wanted to ban TikTok, so of course President Biden backtracked. But if Sleepy Joe cares about the Chinese threat to our national security, he should put aside his Trump animosity and listen to what Carr has to say about the possible dangers posed by something that could suck the lives of people without social media. distrust for infamous people. purposes.
Again, I was skeptical. What could the Chinese do with the information gleaned from dance videos and comedy sketches? The first point Carr made to me is that TikTok isn’t just an ordinary app — it’s the most popular in the world; the TikTok logo has become ubiquitous at American sporting events, from Yankees games to MSG to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
With 1 billion monthly active users, it collects a lot of data. Like all of our “free” social media platforms, TikTok siphons off chunks of user information to make money, which is why I get so many targeted ads online based on my search history.
Carr, Trump’s FCC appointee, makes a pretty compelling case that, unlike big US tech companies, profits aren’t the only motivating factor in TikTok’s business model.
All of this user data — from searches to downloads to anything touched by the app — feeds China’s communist surveillance state, he believes, which wants to supplant our dominance as the world’s economic leader.
Reply to CCP
You see, TikTok is owned by a Chinese holding company called ByteDance. Unlike the executives and board members of American tech giants, his management priority does not serve the interests of shareholders. It responds to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and ultimately to its power-hungry supreme leader, Xi Jinping.
Little Information on China Inc.: It doesn’t matter how many US investors are involved in Chinese companies (ByteDance has significant US investments in private equity and venture capital). The curators really run the show.
A good example is Alibaba, the Chinese equivalent of Amazon. The company’s founder, Jack Ma, attracted considerable interest from US investors for a 2014 IPO that appeared on the New York Stock Exchange in one of the most sought-after listings in recent history.
But for all the American fanfare, the commissioners never relaxed their grip on Alibaba or Ma himself. The IPO disclosure documents say so, warning that the Chinese government “exerts significant control over China’s economic growth. . . give preferential treatment to particular industries or companies.
After the public offering, Ma became one of the richest people in the world, worth around $26 billion, a philanthropist and activist who tended to publicly say things that angered the authoritarian rulers of China.
He also suffered the same fate as others who crossed paths with their business partners in political office and suddenly and without explanation disappeared; he became the subject of scorn and ridicule in Chinese state media and a target of Chinese regulators.
Maybe he ended up in one of the country’s infamous gulags or maybe he was re-educated under less onerous conditions. Anyway, now that Ma has been spotted, he keeps his mouth shut.
Again, ByteDance is not a public company, so there is no regulatory mandate to provide specific legal information on the role of commissioners in its operations.
Based on public statements from TikTok officials, that role would seem minimal. Its servers were secure. The Biden team seems to have bought the explanation from ByteDance.
This has not appeased many GOPers in the national security and telecommunications apparatus. Carr, a longtime telecommunications lawyer and political buff, continued to seek ways to rein in the business. His worst fears were recently confirmed with a report from BuzzFeed News which obtained recordings showing how China is all over the information of American TikTok users.
“Everything shows in China,” said a TikTok official.
Curiously, TikTok really didn’t deny the report. A spokeswoman simply said, “…we hire experts in their fields, continually work to validate our security standards, and engage independent, reputable third parties to test our defenses.
The spokesperson did not return my call and email for comment.
Carr wrote to Google and Apple, demanding that they stop offering TikTok in their app stores. If the GOP regains control of Congress, hearings are likely.
In the meantime, Carr also wants Sleepy Joe to step in and stop what he believes is China’s blatant data theft before it’s too late – even if it would force our famous obtuse Commander-in-Chief to wake up and sense data breaches.