@cgartenberg: Reddit CEO says TikTok is ‘fundamentally parasitic,’ cites privacy concerns

[Editor Charlie sez: Artists and songwriters should consider how their music is used for child data exploitation and Internet addiction. Not surprising that Europeans are investigating TikTok for data protections for children under 13 and the transfer of personal data by TikTok to China military-civil authorities likely under Articles 7 and 14 of China’s National Intelligence Law.]

Reddit CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman called TikTok “fundamentally parasitic” due to concerns over privacy during an appearance at the Social 2030 venture capital conference this week (via TechCrunch). Huffman specifically called out TikTok’s practice of fingerprinting to track devices as being of particular concern. 

“Maybe I’m going to regret this, but I can’t even get to that level of thinking with [TikTok],” Huffman said at the event, “because I look at that app as so fundamentally parasitic, that it’s always listening, the fingerprinting technology they use is truly terrifying, and I could not bring myself to install an app like that on my phone.”

Read the post on The Verge

George Soros: Investors in Xi’s China face a rude awakening

[ARW readers could probably guess that I’m not a fan of George Soros–a man who for reasons of his own has financed most of the anti-artist front groups around the world. But when he’s right, he’s right and in this op-ed from the Financial Times, he’s definitely right and Blackrock is definitely wrong.]

The crackdown by the Chinese government is real. Unnoticed by the financial markets, the Chinese government quietly took a stake and a board seat in TikTok owner ByteDance in April. The move gives Beijing one seat on a three-person board of directors and first-hand access to the inner workings of a company that has one of the world’s largest troves of personal data. 

The market is more aware that the Chinese government is taking influential stakes in Alibaba and its subsidiaries.  Xi does not understand how markets operate. As a consequence, the sell-off was allowed to go too far. It began to hurt China’s objectives in the world.

Recognising this, Chinese financial authorities have gone out of their way to reassure foreign investors and markets have responded with a powerful rally. But that is a deception. Xi regards all Chinese companies as instruments of a one-party state. Investors buying into the rally are facing a rude awakening. That includes not only those investors who are conscious of what they are doing, but also a much larger number of people who have exposure via pension funds and other retirement savings. 

Read the post in the Financial Times

@julia_marnin: China [CCP] Orders Broadcasters to ‘Put An End’ to ‘Sissy Men,’ and ‘Other Abnormal Esthetics’

[Editor Charlie sez: Will TikTok be next?]

The Chinese government ordered its TV broadcasters to “put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics,” its TV regulator said, as China’s Communist Party cracks down on its society for a “national rejuvenation” ordered by President Xi Jinping, the Associated Press reported.

China’s TV regulator insultingly addressed effeminate men with the slang term “niang pao” meaning “girlie guns.” The order to “put an end” to them demonstrates the Chinese government’s worries that male pop stars provide a lack of masculine influence for the nation’s men. Meanwhile, in nearby Japan and South Korea, many male pop stars are known for having a sleek and feminine image.

In addition, broadcasters were ordered to not promote “vulgar internet celebrities” alongside celebrity culture and that broadcasters should “vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture.”

Read the post on Newsweek

@bbcnews: Hong Kong pro-democracy tycoon Jimmy Lai denied bail under security law

[Editor Charlie sez: The publisher Jimmy Lai is being prosecuted by the Chinese Communist Party under the same National Security Law that covers TikTok employees.]

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been denied bail while awaiting trial under a controversial new national security law. 

Mr Lai, 73, is accused of conspiring with foreign forces to endanger national security, and could face a lengthy jail term.

He is the most high-profile person charged under the law.

Mr Lai founded the Apple Daily newspaper and is a fierce critic of the authorities in mainland China.

The tycoon was originally arrested under the law in August 2020 after a police raid on Apple Daily’s head office. He was released on bail but then rearrested in December.

Read the post on BBC News

Jack Ma’s Pain May Explain Why Kevin Mayer Got Out of TikTok

When TikTok first came under criticism for being under the control of the Chinese Communist Party, many in the music business didn’t quite know what to make of it. Kevin Mayer’s sudden departure seemed kind of inexplicable and sudden. I moderated a panel of great experts on the subject at the Music Business Association Law and Technology Conference (materials here) and we put together what I still think are important background documents for understanding the differences between doing business in an authoritarian collectivist state that has the legal basis in national law to demand not only compliance, but also governance and also ownership.

Now we have evidence from billionaire Jack Ma and Alibaba/Ant Group of just how in your face Kevin Mayer’s sit down may have been. Remember, Jack Ma is a member of the larger Chinese Communist Party according to the BBC. (I have to believe that TikTok grand poobah Zhang Yiming is also a member and most definitely is very familiar with these sit downs.)

According to the Wall Street Journal’s Lingling Wei, Jack Ma offered CCP regulators any part of Ant Group they wanted if they’d just let him conclude what would have been the world’s largest IPO.

As Jack Ma was trying to salvage his relationship with Beijing in early November, the beleaguered Chinese billionaire offered to hand over parts of his financial-technology giant, Ant Group, to the Chinese government, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

“You can take any of the platforms Ant has, as long as the country needs it,” Mr. Ma, China’s richest man, proposed at an unusual sit-down with regulators, the people said.

Jack Ma has done a number of things to provoke retaliation by the CCP government. He got sideways because Ant Group has a banking operation has loaned approximately $230 billion outside of the CCP’s banking controls. The last straw seems to have been criticizing CCP Chairman for Life Xi Jinping’s financial regulations that Ma felt would cause capital shortfalls that would be made up by the Bank of China (the CCP’s central bank) buying equity to make up those shortfalls. See how that works? They’re not requiring Ant to sell them equity, they are just helping out. That’s a nice IPO you got there, be a shame if something happened to it.

TikTok’s Mr. Zhang has been there and would probably tell Mr. Ma to embrace the suck.  It should come as no surprise–according to his Wikipedia page, Mr. Zhang understands what happens when you don’t toe the Party line:

[Zhang’s] first app, Neihan Duanzi, was shut down in 2018 by the National Radio and Television Administration. In response, Zhang issued an apology stating that the app was “incommensurate with socialist core values“, that it had a “weak” implementation of Xi Jinping Thought, and promised that ByteDance would “further deepen cooperation” with the ruling Chinese Communist Party to better promote its policies.

All of which gives us better insight into why Keven Mayer might have decided to exit TikTok.