Written by Nick Heer.

At Code, TikTok Unites Primarily American Tech Factions Against It

Ina Fried, Axios:

While TikTok had no official presence at the Code Conference, the Chinese-owned firm was the talk of the annual gathering of tech world notables this week — serving as the foil of choice for a parade of tech executives, pundits and even some government officials.

[…]

[Scott] Galloway, who took every chance to call out the dangers of TikTok, was the sharpest critic in calling for it to be banned, but others were happy to join in.

Galloway repeated that demand on “Real Time with Bill Maher”. In fairness to Galloway, his disagreement with TikTok’s practices is not unique. He has repeatedly treated Facebook with disdain and dislikes surveillance advertising. But his claims about the control impressed by TikTok is on another level.

Taylor Lorenz on Twitter [sic]:

“Tiktok is flooding our children with Chinese propaganda all day” mf have u been on tiktok like once ever please stop. And before ppl come and twist my words, I’m not saying tiktok is “good” just that there’s no evidence of what he’s constantly alleging

Karl Bode, Techdirt:

As we’ve noted several times, you could ban TikTok tomorrow with a giant patriotic hammer and the Chinese government could nab all the same U.S. consumer data from just an absolute parade of companies and dodgy data brokers. And they can do that because U.S. privacy and security standards have been a trash fire for decades, especially when it comes to things like sensitive user location data.

And they’ve been a trash fire for decades because most of the same folks crying about TikTok prioritized making money over consumer privacy standards. None of these folks, nor the operators of conferences like Code, seem particularly keyed in to any of this.

I am certain some people are truly concerned about an internet where an autocratic state has an increased presence. I get it. I do not think everyone with these worries is xenophobic. I also do not believe an American-dominated internet is a universally acceptable variant. But it is the status quo, and a lot of the world’s private data is held by U.S. companies with few regulations and little oversight.

It would be worrisome for TikTok fears to be used as an excuse against U.S. privacy regulations on competition grounds. Unfortunately, that is the case being made by advocacy firms working on behalf of big American technology companies.