We’re Tikking at Big Risk: TikTok Endangers US Business

We're Tikking at Big Risk: TikTok Endangers US Business
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As someone who covered the TikTok saga during the final days of the Trump presidency, I must confess that I had a degree of skepticism with the former president and his people’s belief that a short video app popular among teens it was actually a stealth tool used by the Communist Chinese to spy on Americans.

No more.

Brendan Carr, commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, gave me some revelations that seem to confirm the worst fears of Trump and his national security team about the application and how it is working. used by China to collect data on US citizens to spy on us

In 2020, Trump wanted to ban TikTok, so of course President Biden changed course. But if Sleepy Joe cares about the Chinese threat to our national security, he should put aside his animosity toward Trump and listen to what Carr has to say about the possible dangers raised by something that could be sucking the life out of unsuspecting people’s social media for nefarious purposes.

Once again, I was a skeptic. What could the Chinese do with the information gleaned from dance videos and comedy skits? The first point Carr told me is that TikTok is not just an ordinary app, it’s the most popular app in the world; The TikTok logo has become ubiquitous at American sporting events, from Yankees games to MSG during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Brendan Carr
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has warned of China’s use of TikTok as a way to get information from Americans.
fake images

With 1 billion active monthly users, it collects a huge amount of data. Like all of our “free” social media platforms, TikTok mines vast amounts of user information to make money, which is why I get so many targeted ads online based on my search history.

Carr, a Trump appointee to the FCC, 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 the Chinese communist surveillance state, he believes, that wants to supplant our dominance as the world economic leader.

Responding to the CCP

You see, TikTok is owned by a Chinese holding company called ByteDance. Unlike the executives and board members of the US tech giants, his management priority is not to serve the interests of shareholders. He answers to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and ultimately to its power-hungry supreme leader, Xi Jinping.

Little background on China Inc.: It doesn’t matter how many US investors are involved in Chinese companies (ByteDance has significant private equity and venture capital investments in the US). The curators really run the show.

A good example is Alibaba, the Chinese equivalent of Amazon. Company founder Jack Ma attracted huge interest from US investors for a 2014 initial public offering that appeared on the New York Stock Exchange in one of the most sought-after listings in recent history.

But despite all the American fanfare, the commissioners never loosened their grip on Alibaba or Ma himself. IPO disclosure documents made that clear, warning that the Chinese government “exerts significant control over China’s economic growth. . . granting 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 had a tendency to publicly say things that upset China’s authoritarian rulers.

He also suffered a fate similar to that of others who came across their business associates in the politburo and suddenly and without explanation disappeared; He became an object of scorn and ridicule in China’s state media and a target of China’s regulators.

tik tok
TikTok has over a billion active users on the app.
SOPA/LightRocket Images via Gett

Maybe he ended up in one of the country’s infamous gulags or maybe he was re-educated under less onerous conditions. Either way, now that Ma’s been found out, he just keeps his mouth shut.

Again, ByteDance is not a public company, so there is no regulatory mandate to provide specific legal disclosures about the role of curators in its operations.

Based on public statements from TikTok officials, that role would seem minimal. His servers were safe. The Biden team appears to have bought into the ByteDance explanation.

That has not relieved many GOPers in the telecommunications and national security apparatus. Carr, a longtime telecommunications lawyer and policy expert, kept looking for ways to control the company. His worst fears were confirmed recently with a BuzzFeed News report that obtained recordings showing how China is allegedly appearing in all of US TikTok user data.

“Everything is seen in China,” a TikTok official explained.

‘safety standards’

Interestingly, TikTok didn’t really deny the report. A spokeswoman stated blandly, “We hire experts in their fields, continually work to validate our security standards, and bring in reputable, independent third parties to test our defenses.”

Joe Biden
Carr wants President Biden to take action on potential data issues.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The spokeswoman did not return my call and email for comment.

Carr has written to Google and Apple demanding that they stop carrying TikTok in their app stores. If the Republican Party regains control of Congress, hearings are likely.

Meanwhile, Carr also wants Sleepy Joe to step in and stop what he believes to be China’s blatant data theft before it’s too late, even if that requires our famously obtuse commander-in-chief to wake up and smell the leaks of data.

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