@moonalice: Dear Joe Biden: Don’t Listen to Silicon Valley

[Editor Charlie sez: This is an open letter from Roger McNamee, musician, venture capitalist and commentators]

DEAR VICE PRESIDENT Biden,

In this moment when a pandemic, an economic contraction, and protests against racism have combined to trigger national self-reflection, you have an opportunity to lead us forward to a better America, one that comes closer to the nation’s ideals than ever before. I am one of millions of Americans looking to you for new approaches to government and leadership. We are counting on you to reject the old ways that brought us to this point….

Imagine my disappointment last week when The New York Times reported that President Obama had suggested that you work with two members of the Silicon Valley establishment, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman. I know both men well. They are brilliant and very successful. Their money and expertise may be valuable to your campaign, but I hope you will not turn to them for policy guidance. They were architects of the culture and values that produced the problems….

Read the post on Wired

@YashaLevine: Shahid Buttar, the cheesy Silicon Valley astroturfer challenging Nancy Pelosi from “the left”

As someone who grew up in San Francisco and wrote the book on the shady history of Silicon Valley — I simply can’t let this go. I mean, check it out: Turns out that the guy running to unseat Nancy Pelosi from “the left” is a corporate Silicon Valley astroturfer from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

His name is Shahid Buttar.

Why is this significant? EFF is America’s oldest and most influential internet business lobby — an organization that has played a pivotal role in shaping the internet as it exists today. That privatized telecommunication system that’s owned by giant monopolies, powered by for-profit surveillance and influence ops, dominated by spies, and lacking any democratic oversight? Yep, that one. EFF is directly responsible for bringing it into being — and for making sure it stays privatized, shitty, and oligarchic.

As I wrote in my massive investigation into EFF’s shady history and it’s pro-Silicon Valley astroturf tricks for The Baffler a few years back, this organization has done an amazing job convincing us that it’s one of the good guys on the Internet — that it’s grassroots and on the side of the people. In reality, EFF has always been on the side of corporations, fighting against democratic control of Silicon Valley — from making sure ISPs could grow into giant monopolies to blowing up the first (and only) attempt to regulate Google’s surveillance business model back in 2004.

Read the post on Yasha Levine’s blog

Walk a Mile in His Shoes: Former Internet Association President Michael Beckerman Tapdances to TikTok, But His Mouth is Still Moving So You Know What That Means

Michael Beckerman

Michael “Big Foot” Beckerman has moved from screwing artists at the Internet Association to screwing artists at pay-to-play service TikTok, China’s answer to the $50 handshake.  Banned by multiple departments of the U.S. Government and a fav of pedophiles, TikTok’s new lobbyist has got one thing on his mind–more shoes for Mikey.  Which means tap-dancing around an IPO for TikTok.

And that means distancing TikTok from China.  That’s a challenge because Chinese companies don’t comply with US accounting standards for public companies, which means you’re really buying some pork in a poke and that’s a super spreader for a whole new kind of hog disease.  Given that the SEC is looking into delisting existing Chinese companies and blocking access to US capital markets for new offerings, it’s like that choice between Keds and Jason of Beverly Hills.  Which brand best suits old popsicle toes, do you think?

Politico tells us that Mr. Beckerman’s biggest challenge is making a Chinese company that some think is a thinly veiled state owned enterprise that surveils for the CCP seem like it’s not really Chinese.

TIKTOK IN WASHINGTON — Michael Beckerman took the helm of TikTok’s policy shop just a week before coronavirus-related restrictions got underway. Now the former Internet Association chief is staffing up the company’s first Washington office and trying to make Capitol Hill inroads while the pandemic has brought business as usual to a halt. That’s meant video conferences and phone calls with Hill offices, as well as remote interviews with prospective staff. “We’re moving forward. The company’s doing well and growing, and my hope is when everybody can go back to work, we’ll have the first pieces of our team in place,” Beckerman told MT.

Exactly how big that team will be, Beckerman declined to say. But the company currently has eight openings on its website for D.C. policy experts focused on privacy, content moderation, intellectual property and more. “It’s not going to be a WeWork-size office, I’ll say. We will have a physical office with a team that can tell the story of the company and be really proactive,” he noted. Until now, TikTok has been reluctant to engage lawmakers. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee left an empty witness chair when TikTok declined to appear at two hearings, and the company’s leader, Alex Zhu, canceled a series of Capitol Hill meetings last year. “We’ll be engaging fully with Congress. I can’t speak to specific hearings, but we definitely look forward to telling our story,” Beckerman said.

But here’s the good part:

TikTok’s big D.C. objective is distancing itself from China. The app’s ties to Beijing-based ByteDance have been a source of suspicion in Washington, but Beckerman attributes that to confusion about its corporate structure. TikTok is not a subsidiary of ByteDance, as has been widely reported, he said. Rather, the two companies share a common Cayman Islands-based holding company, also called ByteDance.And though Zhu resides in China, TikTok’s other senior executives are located in the U.S. TikTok is not available in China and data from its U.S. users is not stored there, Beckerman added. “A lot of that anti-China sentiment we really need to clear up and explain how this company is being run independently, and it’s not subject to Chinese law or a subsidiary of a Chinese company,” he said.

Oh that’s MUCH less confusing.  “TikTok is not a subsidiary of ByteDance, as has been widely reported, he said. Rather, the two companies share a common Cayman Islands-based holding company, also called ByteDance.”

What a relief.  Big Foot to the rescue.  I feel so much better now.

This takes “news from the goolag” to a whole new level.

Artist Rights Symposium II: The Internet Archive’s “National Emergency Library” and the Truth About Google Astroturfing Libraries!

[Editor Charlie sez:  In more news from the Goolag, another awesome panel from the University of Georgia Terry College of Business Artist Rights Symposium, this time on the Internet Archive’s “National Emergency Library” with the Anonymous Librarian, John Degen, Jonathan Taplin, Robert Levine, and moderated by Terrica Carrington.]

Pandemic: @NaomiAKlein on Google’s “Screen New Deal”, COVID as biometric data privilege feast